Start with an Appalachian story, set it in the late 1920s, add a preacher who pitches a tent and starts his own church called "The Church of Consecrated Heaven and Satan’s on the Run." Begin the prologue with, “For a long time, I thought it was a dream. A melody curled through the night, like a white ribbon on black.” There’s a significant chance of a good book in store in Lord of the Mountain by Ronald Kidd.
Nate, the preacher’s son with a strong personal draw to music, tries to make sense of his father’s adamant rejection of all music as the devil’s work. Family relationships figure into the complexity with an undiscussed dead sister, a younger brother who buys everything the father is selling, and a partial song that Nate catches his mother singing. His father’s emotional services occur on Saturday nights because he says it is the Sabbath and a chance to go toe-to-toe with the devil. They draw a large crowd with money for offerings that support the family for a while. When the novelty wears thin, his father introduces the snake.
Nate is first enticed by overheard country radio music from WSM Barn Dance before he makes his escape into downtown Bristol where he encounters new decisions and pulls in different directions. Lending a helping hand to the arrival of the Carter family of country music fame, mechanical ability that can help Archibald Lane brought in to whip the Bristol Door and Lumber Company into shape, and a hard choice to choose friendship between the Archibald’s son Gray and Sue Dean, the daughter of the union leader, leave him in a quandary – or several quandaries.
Nate leaves the community to find the rest of the song he heard from his mother, thinking it will someway bring healing to his family. The history and color of the region in that time is skillfully woven into Nate’s story with struggles, true to life for the time and place, but unbearable to consider the true-to-life dangers he faces as a very young teenager.
I read this book in an advance reading copy from Net Galley and have been waiting for publishing time to post this blog. It will be available September 1. The story has as many interesting turns as the mountain roads where it is set. Plan to start it when you don’t need to be busy for a little while.