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Fiction Review    


Ghost Riders
By Sharyn McCrumb
Dutton, 2003
Hardcover, $24.95 (352 pages)
ISBN: 0-525-94718-3


Sharyn McCrumb's fans have come to expect excellent storytelling juxtaposing the history and folklore of Appalachian culture past and present. Ghost Riders doesn't disappoint.
When the local re-enactors -- journalists, lawyers, and teachers start seeing starving soldiers with unusually authentic uniforms, Rattler and Nora Bonesteel, locals with the "gift of sight" become uncomfortable. They realize how closely intertwined the living are with the dead and the importance of preventing clashes between the two.  As the present day re-enactors play out their roles, so do 1860s mountain folk Keith and Malinda Blalock. 
Malinda, unwilling to entrust her husband's life to the military, follows him from a distance, enlisting as "Sam," in order to protect him. The Blalocks knew, "Being loyal to the Union in a Rebel state would put you and all your kinfolk in mortal danger. But it didn't make us loyal Confederate citizens. It only made us careful." When Keith is discharged, Malinda reveals her secret to Zebulon Baird Vance, and returns home. Keith's reluctance to take up arms again puts the couple in danger. Rather than rejoin the county militia, Keith and Malinda become outlaws determined to avenge the deaths of their kin and neighbors at the hands of the
Ghost Riders, rich in historical detail, is McCrumb at her finest.
Sharyn McCrumb, who lives in the Virginia Blue Ridge, is a native North Carolinian. Her home is less than a hundred miles from where her family settled (in 1790) in the Smoky Mountains dividing North Carolina and Tennessee. Her previous novels include: The Songcather, The Rosewood Casket, She Walks These Hills, The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, and If I Ever Return, Pretty Peggy-O.
Pam Kingsbury
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