I heard tell there was a colored woman's ghost who walked the Ridge. She was what the old-timers called a storycatcher. Her job was to set life stories straight, 'cause the Lord only knew how many were all twisted in a knot. Her story was the big question. No one knew where she came from.There is a whole lot going on in Ann Hite's The Storycatcher. Set during the Great Depression, it covers the Sapelo Island area of Georgia to the Black Mountain range of North Carolina. A brief period of time is also spent in Louisiana.
The story in North Carolina focuses on Faith Dobbins and Shelly Parker. Faith is the daughter of the local minister, quite possibly the most evil being on the mountain. Shelly, a maid in the Dobbins house, is also a seer. Given the gift of sight, she sees and communicates with the dead. She alone knows that Faith's body has been taken over by someone on the mountain that recently departed and is determined to have her revenge.
Much of the book focuses on North Carolina, but for me, the stories in Sapelo are much more interesting. Ada Lee is a Saltwater Geechee, working in Darien during the week and crossing the marshes on Fridays to spend the weekend on her beloved Sapelo Island. She would rather be making sweetgrass baskets like her mother and grandmother before her. Instead, she spends her days cleaning and cooking for white folks on the mainland. Ada Lee is a seer also and has long been aware of the ghost of Emmaline. Her Aunt Hattie has warned her to stay away from the haint, but Emmaline has come to set a story straight and there's no denying her.
While this was overall an okay read, the story lines were difficult to keep straight. Part of this is due to the overwhelming number of characters, which includes quite a few ghosts and haints; the other part is due to the flashing back and forth in time and place. For the longest time, the stories being told in Georgia and in North Carolina seem to having nothing to do with another, and it's not until the last few chapters that they're tied together and begin to make sense. Unfortunately, most will lose interest before getting to that point.
Published: September 2013
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.