Tag Archives: Cherokees

Lawrence Thackston. The Devil’s Courthouse. Baltimore: PublishAmerica, 2010.

“I’m telling ya, there’s something screwy going on in our little corner of the wild kingdom.”

These words, from forest ranger Lem Astin, are a light-hearted understatement.  In the spring of 1974 several grizzly murders occur in Great Smoky Mountains.  The bodies are so horribly mutilated that police and locals initially believe that bears are responsible for the attacks.  As the body count rises, authorities take ever more extreme measures–killing bears within thirty miles of camp sites, closing the national park, shutting down a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and mishandling an attack on Cherokee lands.

Park rangers Nic Turner and Cole Whitman are skeptical of the bear theory.  So too are some older members of the Cherokee community.  Cherokee elders know the story of Tsul-kalu, a ferocious giant who lives in a cave on top of the Devil’s Courthouse, a rock formation in Transylvania County.  Cole’s skepticism is based on something more personal–a family tragedy and the torment he carries within himself.  It will be locals, not outside authorities, who are able to stop the killings.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Jackson, Mitchell, Mountains, Suspense/Thriller, Swain, Thackston, Lawrence, Transylvania

Leanna Sain. Gate to Nowhere. Kingsport, TN: Twilight Times Books, 2008.

“Before I tell you anything, Gavin, I want to assure you that I’m not crazy. I’m not an escapee from an asylum, and I’m not a witch. I’m just me. My name is Emma Jane Franklin. I’m thirty-four years old; my birthday is April 6… 1970.”

Emma Franklin has been in Nowhere, North Carolina, for a few days when she reluctantly begins to tell her host, Gavin MacKinlay, the story of how she arrived. Gavin can hardly believe his ears – how can someone from the twenty-first century be in his apple orchard? He is transfixed by her beauty, charm, and interest in him and his property; this leads him to believe that she is not lying to him. If what she is saying is true, Emma passed through the gate during a full moon in 2004 to arrive on his plantation in 1827.

Although the thought of traveling through time is shocking enough, Emma gives Gavin some very startling news. In a few days time, the community, which has decided to rename their settlement “MacKinlay” out of admiration of his successes, will suddenly turn on him. Because Emma knows the future, she knows that generations of MacKinlay residents have cursed Gavin’s name, but neither she nor Gavin understand why. Equipped with the information Emma does have, they work together to prevent the events that caused this rift and thus change the course of history.

When the month has passed and the moon is full again, Emma is able to walk through the gate to get back to 2004. Once there, she finds neighbors who are genuinely friendly and who are proud to tout their town’s history. However, Emma is torn. She misses Gavin, who she found to be an honest, gentle person. She finds she likes the practices of the nineteenth century and has no desire to stay in this century. Emma must choose which life to live, although this time, if she passed through the gate, there can be no turning back.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library Catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Henderson, Historical, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Sain, Leanna, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Melissa Hardy. Broken Road. Holstein, ON: Exile Editions, 2009.

Cherokee mythology includes the legend of the ulunsuti, the powerful transparent stone taken from the forehead of an enormous horned serpent, an uktena. Anyone in possession of the ulunsuti has vast power, enjoys great strength, and can find unknown, beautiful places; however, custody of the magical crystal can be both a blessing and a curse. Keepers of the stones are expected to pass them down to members of their families, keeping the whereabouts of the stones a secret.

In Broken Road Melissa Hardy follows the story of the individuals who possess the ulunsuti in Qualla, which is located in southwest North Carolina near the Great Smokey Mountains. Starting with Groundhog’s Mother, members of his family find the benefits and troubles associated with the ulunsuti. For example, his descendants who hold the stone find great business success when they use practices of the white traders. However, there is also much heartbreak within their families, and many of the men turn to alcohol.

One feature of possessing the ulunsuti is being able to see into the future, which means anticipating the violent relocation of the Cherokee people to Oklahoma in 1838. As the ulunsuti is passed down generations, relationships evolve with white individuals such as Miss Sawyer, a schoolteacher whose Christian beliefs are challenged when she decides to move to Qualla and is given the stone. Although the Cherokee are forced to leave their homes, their traditions remain in tact and they stay true to Eloheh, their word for land, history, culture, and religion.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Hardy, Melissa, Historical, Jackson, Mountains, Swain

Jennifer Niven. Velva Jean Learns to Drive. New York: Plume, 2009.

Rhinestones. High-heeled cowboy boots. Hawaiian steel guitars. Many people are drawn to the bright lights of Nashville, Tennessee, and Velva Jean Hart Bright is one of them. She is enthralled by the opportunities afforded by the city and consumed with her lifelong desire to be a famous Grand Ole Opry singer. When Velva Jean was a little girl on (fictional) Fair Mountain, North Carolina, her mother supported her dream by encouraging Velva Jean to write songs and to sing for her. After her mother dies and her father abruptly leaves the family to work on the Scenic (the Blue Ridge Parkway), Velva Jean quickly grows up and puts her wish for fame on hold. At age sixteen, she marries Harley Bright, a convict-turned-traveling preacher who grew up in nearby (fictional) Devil’s Kitchen.

Harley is initially a sweet and doting husband. However, his views of marriage are very traditional. He doesn’t allow Velva Jean to drive and he forbids her beloved pastime, singing. As she gets used to married life, Velva Jean realizes Nashville may be even further from her reach. However, she is headstrong, and when Harley turns cold, controlling, and fanatical in his opposition to the Parkway and the “outlanders” that have moved in to build it, Velva Jean refuses to be acquiescent. She realizes that her dream is too much to give up for a loveless marriage, and she leaves Devil’s Kitchen – driving and singing her way to a new life.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Historical, Mountains, Niven, Jennifer, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Terrell T. Garren. The Fifth Skull: A Historical Novel of the Civil War and the American West. Spartanburg, SC: Reprint Co., 2008.

It’s 1864, the last year of the Civil War, when a new conscription law establishes the Confederate Junior Reserves, which requires boys to serve in the army after their 17th birthday.  Protagonists Billy Nick Long of Henderson County and John Rattler of the Snowbird Cherokee Community are sent to Camp Vance in Morganton, NC, along with other members of the Junior Reserve.The boys have not yet been trained or provided with weapons when Union soldiers raid the camp and take the boys as prisoners of war.  In order to save their lives, the boys join the Union Army’s Galvanized Regiments and head west towards California and Oregon to fight in the American Indian Wars.  Garren’s novel weaves historical evidence of the crimes and atrocities committed during these two wars with his coming-of-age tale of two North Carolina boys.

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Filed under 2008, Burke, Garren, Terrell T., Henderson, Historical, Mountains

Joyce and Jim Lavene. Last One Down. New York: Avalon Books, 2004.

When Sheriff Sharyn Howard leaves Diamond Springs to attend a law enforcement training retreat, her staff must solve a murder and deal with a sniper in town.  Meanwhile, Sharyn has her own problems.  One of her deputies is seriously injured when he falls down an old mine shaft, another man is found dead in the woods, and several others are killed when a car explodes.  Unfortunately, the retreat is in an abandoned mining town on isolated Sweet Potato Mountain, their radio is broken, and a vicious storm begins flooding the area streams.  This is the tenth book in the series of Sharyn Howard mysteries.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2004, Lavene, Jim and Joyce, Montgomery, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont

Sallie Bissell. Call the Devil By His Oldest Name. New York: Bantam Dell, 2004.

Atlanta prosecutor Mary Crow is in the middle of a heart-wrenching child abuse/child pornography case when she is informed that her infant goddaughter has been abducted. The call sends her to a Cherokee gathering in Tennessee and into the woods after the perpetrator. The kidnapping is not a random event, but rather an attempt by Mary’s nemesis to lure her to her death. Although most of the novel is set on the Tennessee section of the Trail of Tears, Mary’s North Carolina hometown, the fictional Little Jump Off, makes an appearance.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2004, Bissell, Sallie, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller

Sallie Bissell. In the Forest of Harm. New York: Bantam Books, 2001.

Prosecutor Mary Crow’s trip to the mountains with her two college friends was supposed to be a celebration; she has just won her sixth murder case in a row. The plan was to stop in her childhood hometown of Jump Off, NC and then hike and camp for two days in the Nantahala National Forest. Their plan quickly goes awry. The women face two very different men who are intent upon hurting or killing them; one is a seasoned serial killer who has stalked victims in the forest for years and one is a man with a personal grudge against Mary. This is the first book in the series of Mary Crow thrillers.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2001, Bissell, Sallie, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller

Vicki Lane. Old Wounds. New York: Bantam Dell, 2007.

Ten year-old Maythorn Mullins disappeared on Halloween in 1986. After nineteen years of trying to forget all about the incident, UNC professor Rosemary Goodweather has returned home and is determined to find out what happened to her childhood best friend. Her mother Elizabeth helps with the investigation, worries about her daughter, and tries to figure out her maybe-romance with former detective Phillip Hawkins. Old Wounds is the third of the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian mysteries.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Lane, Vicki, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

William J. Everett. Red Clay, Blood River. Booklocker.com, 2008.

Through the lives of its main characters and with the Earth as a narrator, Red Clay, Blood River spans space and time to tell a story that is both historical and ecological. It ties together two massive and tragedy-filled relocations of the mid-1830s–the Trail of Tears in the United States and the Great Trek in Africa. It also ties these historical events to the present through the experiences of three ecology students.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Everett, William J., Historical, Mountains