The Storycatcher by Ann Hite
Published by: Gallery Books
Published on: September 10, 2013
Page Count: 352
Genre: Southern fiction
My Reading Format: ARC provided by NetGalley
Available Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Audible and audiobook CD editions
Ann Hite has woven the voices of several female narrators together in a spooky, don't-turn-your-back-for-one-second tale about the past, the people in it and how it can all come back to haunt. The stories of several women, alive and dead, are steeped in mystery. Pastor Dobbins' wife and daughter, Lydia and Faith, respectively, live on Black Mountain, North Carolina, with their servant Amanda and her children Will and Shelly. The women and their teenaged children steer clear of Pastor Dobbins whenever they can - his temper is fierce and he's hiding something. Nearby is Miss Maude, an older woman who is teaching Faith and Shelly how to garden. When the ghost of a woman who died in childbirth five years before shows up, Pastor Dobbins starts acting even more squirrelly and the women in his household and employ are on edge, particularly after Will makes a hasty departure without saying goodbye. Will ends up in coastal Georgia serendipitously finding family member Ada Lee who has some stories of her own. The ghost has a story to tell too, and she can do it most easily by inhabiting Faith's body to communicate, warning the women about what might be coming their way. Shelly and Faith, who have for years tried to stay out of each other's way, find their stories intertwining in a way they never thought possible. The tensions between Pastor Dobbins and the women continue to build and something has to give, and does.
I enjoyed Hite's ability to create so many distinct voices - it must have been difficult to keep it all straight in her head while writing. There were times though that I had difficulty remembering which voices were living women and which were the spirits. I'd find myself having to flip back and forth more times than I would have liked to keep it straight. For this reason alone, I'd recommend a physical copy of this book rather than the Kindle or audio versions. Still, I very much enjoyed seeing how all of the characters' stories played out and how difficult situations resolved themselves by the end of the novel. There were times where as the reader, I knew more than the characters, so I could tell what they were probably about to walk into. This didn't spoil it for me though. It was fun to see if my predictions were correct and how characters handled sticky situations or the delivery of bad news. The characters are memorable and resilient. I'd like to reread it one more time to soak them all in.
Three and a half out of five stars
If you liked this book, you’ll like Flannery O'Connor (for the voices she gives her characters), The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and Nightwoods by Charles Frazier (western North Carolina mountain setting and more good characters).