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From Inside the Flap A DREAM OF DROWNED HOLLOW, Lee’s Gryphon Award-winning ecological fantasy novel. There are spirits afoot deep in the Ozark hills of Blackburn County, Arkansas. Things happen. Ghosts walk. Elemental creatures dance to the wild music of the rhythms of Nature. And those who?ve lived in the hills for generations can see them. But now there’s activity of another kind ravaging the hills; bulldozers, chainsaws, and hunters of man and beast. As old-growth trees fall to developers, rivers are dammed, hollows are flooded, and residents are driven from land settled by their many-times-great-grandparents, April Rue Stoner hopes against hope that her gift can help her stop the destruction before everything she’s ever known is gone.
A DREAM OF DROWNED HOLLOW, Lee’s Gryphon Award-winning ecological fantasy novel.
There are spirits afoot deep in the Ozark hills of Blackburn County, Arkansas. Things happen. Ghosts walk. Elemental creatures dance to the wild music of the rhythms of Nature. And those who?ve lived in the hills for generations can see them.
But now there’s activity of another kind ravaging the hills; bulldozers, chainsaws, and hunters of man and beast. As old-growth trees fall to developers, rivers are dammed, hollows are flooded, and residents are driven from land settled by their many-times-great-grandparents, April Rue Stoner hopes against hope that her gift can help her stop the destruction before everything she’s ever known is gone.
Reviewed by Christina St. Clair: five stars.
A Dream of Drowned Hollow resonates with truth about Gaia, our Mother Earth, and how she fights back against environmental exploitation. The importance of Mother God imagery, where the whole earth and all its creatures are revered, is emphasized. Although this theme is contrasted against authoritative notions of dominion over the earth for gain, the story balances feminine and masculine spiritual principles in a non-judgmental way. The story honors the mystical and supernatural aspects of living. It is a very special love story too, abounding in Ozark folklore. This book contains wonderful depictions of the region and the culture. Believable characters move the story forward, drawing the reader in, creating convincing paranormal events.
April Rue Stoner, the heroine, is a girl I liked more and more as the story progressed. She is a young impoverished college student who (through no fault of her own) is isolated from most of her family, but in spite of being alone, is determined to live a meaningful life. She loves the woods, but trees seem to take on life in mysterious ways. She is frightened by her second sight abilities that give her a strange connection to something outside of the realm of the natural, yet she continues to be drawn to nature where she finds solace as well as terror. April Rue is invited to her estranged Granny Cinders' farm in the Ozarks. Here she experiences a strong sense of connection, and forms a warm relationship with her grandmother, who is wise and welcoming. Together they enjoy the simplicity of country life: "Early morning was the best time to gather the plump blackberries, before the sun got too high and the summer heat had a chance to roll in and cook anyone still out snagged in the berry thickets" (Kindle location 1902-7). Granny also teaches her the importance of protection from evil powers as well as to trust in her abilities to discern the world of the supernatural.
Her special powers though have a purpose--it is she who must save the land from a ruthless developer, Trevor Dalton. He intends to dam rivers and drive out residents who have been in the Ozarks for generations, many of whom are aware spirits abound. April Rue, in a vision, "watched in disbelief as the beautiful old apple orchard was leveled…as bulldozers and backhoes dug out great pits and moved earth and trees alike out of the way"( Location 1751-56).
I would recommend this book to all who enjoy supernatural fantasy, all who care about the environment, and anyone who wants to read a story they'll have trouble putting down. I read the book twice. Even though I knew what was going to happen during the second reading, I still couldn't get enough.
THE OLDEST MOUNTAINS
There’s old places in the world, where dreams was born and died ages before sleep and waking came to the parts of the earth we think about now as ancient. There’s high places in the world, where magic lifts up its heart to the moon under a night sky close enough to touch.
And there’s places where age and wind and the weight of being have rounded the edges, softened the outlines?bowed the shoulders.
The Ozarks once thrust themselves up above the top of the world, higher than any others, braver than their sisters. They was bold, and reached out to meet sun and moon first, to bask in their light before it could reach any of the other, shyer mountains-to draw the magic of the sun and moonlight down into the hollows that lay in misted shadows among their lofty peaks. They was the guardians, the sentinels, the watchers; together they stood brave and bold as one of the First Places. They was tall then, the Ozarks, taller than the Himalayas, braver and more daring than their companions. They was older than the others, but still young.
The ages passed, and the winds and rains come and gone, and come again. Storms battered the proud heads that stood so high above the rest, and little by little, the guardians, the sentinels, the watchers was bowed, eroded, worn down by the cares of being. They backed down from their stance among the mountains till they wasn?t much more than hills compared to their younger sisters.
But they kept the magic.
An? now they’s one of the Old Places.
A body can feel it when he goes out at night alone in the starlight-when he hears owls hooting in the dark-when coyotes lift their voices to sing songs o? liquid fireworks to their friend Moon. He can feel it when he hears the trees talking around him, sometimes whispering their secrets on the springtime breezes, other times shouting their defiance of man and weather both in the heart of a storm. He can feel it when a spring chuckles past him while it bathes rocks in icy reflected sunshine.
He can feel it in his bones.
The Old Places of the earth was home to many things besides man. They was shelters for those others, till man come in with his building and despoiling and his overwhelming numbers and destroyed one Old Place after another. The others fled before him, from his ruination, till there wasn?t but a few places left to hide.
The Ozarks is still an Old Place.
There’s parts, of course, where man’s come in and civilized things till the places ain?t fit for man nor beast, much less those others what used to live amongst us when we wasn?t so God-awful ignorant of the magic in the world. There’s places in the Ozarks where cities have sprung up like colonies of some sort of petrified toadstool, and people?ve spread out from them like so many spores to start new colonies. There’s places where man has come in and drowned the hollows that used to hold homes and farms and boneyards of loved ones, all in the name of good fishing, or so it seems to me. Now I like fishing as well as any man, I suppose, but right’s right, and all those places is gone forever, drowned like so many landbound wrecks of ships. And I ain?t sure that’s right at all.
Still, there’s also parts where man ain?t tried to take over, but just lives on the land along with the others who was here before, who stayed behind. Parts where fences might march across the landscape, but nobody keeps guard to watch the comin’s and goings of those who was here before man, who ain?t none of his business. Or those who once was men and lingered on, and still ain?t none of his business. Parts where the others still live.
Parts where caves and hills and hollows shelter more than bats an? wild things?.
Places like Blackburn County.
There’s people who?ve learned to live with the others. There always was, but folks don?t talk about it much-after all, if a body lives with them others, he don?t give them away to strangers, outsiders. They’s almost kinfolk.
A body protects his kin.
And they protect him.
The knowledge is passed from generation to generation, along with a healthy respect for them that live in the Old Places. Sometimes, it’s passed from male t? female, from female t? male, but in the hills, they don?t talk about that much neither-they?re usually folks on the dark side of the knowledge. There’s ways t? walk in the light, or in the shadow. Not all the ways to walk in the light belong inside a church, nor all those in the shadow belong outside. And mostly, them as knows, ain?t talking. But the knowledge is old, and it gets passed on, one way or another.
There’s old families whose members can feel the presence of spirits and haunts, sometimes even see them. They got other powers too, these old families; conjuring powers and healing touches and sight and understanding of things closed to most. We call them granny women and witch masters, goomer doctors and conjure folk. And then, of course, there’s witches, but they?re a whole ?nother story.
And once in a while, in one of these old families, somebody’s born who can not only see and feel the others that share the Old Places, but have some other talent. Something special.
Somebody like April Rue Stoner.
This is April Rue’s story, and one of something bigger; it’s about love, and survival. And it’s a tale of how man and magic can sometimes live together, even now.
But mostly, it’s the story of an Old Place-right here in Blackburn County.
Blood Moon Publishing is an imprint of Double Dragon Publishing