09/10/2013 04:16 pm ET Updated Nov 10, 2013

THE STORYCATCHER Is a Southern Ghost Story

Book Review Jackie K Cooper

Ghosts and haints abound in Ann Hite's new book THE STORYCATCHER. They permeate the story from beginning to end so if you are not one who likes ghost stories you had best move on to something else. However, if you are a fan of ghosts and things that go bump in the night, you can jump right into this tall tale and have a grand time.

Ann Hite spins her story of southern happenings in the 1930's with gusto. She doesn't shy away from elements of the supernatural but rather uses them profusely to make her story of evil even more entertaining. But it is her creation of fascinating characters that make the story work.

The story focuses on two young women, Shelly and Faith. Shelly is the daughter of a maid who works for the Dobbins family in Black Mountain, North Carolina, and Faith is the daughter in the that family. The patriarch of the Dobbins household is a preacher and as such he has full sway over the people who live in his small community on and around Black Mountain.

There are rumors about this preacher concerning young girls who disappeared and others who died in childbirth. But because he is in such a revered position nobody confronts him to his face. They just let the rumors be whispers on the wind. Still his evilness is the cause of many ghosts roaming this area. Their full stories have not been told so they stay on earth even after death in order to try to get someone to finish their stories.

Another portion of the story takes place in Darrien, Georgia. There is a connection that Shelley has with some of the people who live there. It is also where Faith, the preacher's daughter, has relatives. Of course there are ghosts who haunt some of the houses that are located there. Hite does a good job of tying these two locales together in order to present a full picture of her story.

The storyline of THE STORYCATCHER is a complex one. There is a multitude of characters both dead and alive who must be kept straight in the reader's mind and that is not an easy task to accomplish. You very much need the chart Hite provides in the front of the book.

This book takes you back to the 1930's in the rural South. This is a time when the domination of blacks by whites was fierce. Slavery was over but the servitude of blacks was alive and well. In this story the appearance of ghosts gives some blacks an advantage over their employers as they would receive omens and portents of the future.

Hite writes an interesting story full of strongly defined characters and detailed locales. It is not totally satisfying as matters are never clearly resolved. Still for those who enjoy a good ghost story now and again this one will fill that bill.

THE STORYCATCHER is published by Gallery Books. It contains 352 pages and sells for $16.00.

Jackie K Cooper