Walking to Gatlinburg by Howard Frank Mosher is a wonderful story of a young man, 17-year-old Morgan Kinneson, who travels from Vermont to the Great Smoky Mountains trying to find his older brother, Pilgrim, who went missing during the Battle at Gettysburg. Along the way, as in all good tales, Morgan encounters a whole host of quirky characters including a weeping elephant, a woman who lives in a tree, and the not so quirky and very beautiful slave girl named Slidell.
The year is 1864. The Kinneson family has been helping runaway slaves enter Canada from Vermont by way of the Underground Railroad for some time. A chance encounter with one of those slaves, leaves Morgan in possession of a mysterious rune with strange markings and a pack of 5 murderous thugs after him (and the rune). As Morgan deals with his "problems" he makes his way through the rugged terrain searching for any clues as to the whereabouts of his brother. The backdrop for the story is the Civil War, one of America's bloodiest wars, where at times brother fought brother, and where, as I was reading, could feel the hopelessness of it all. What makes this book stand out is the way the author blends the history of the times with the beauty of the American landscape and adds a twist of wry humor. Howard Frank Mosher has written a coming of age story during the turbulent times of the Civil War and added quirky entertaining characters to help us see past the horrors of war and see what the American pioneer spirit was founded on. Imagine Charles Frazier writing as Mark Twain and you’ll understand Walking to Gatlinburg.
Howard Frank Mosher calls himself a natural born liar. Something he's not lying about is that he's no Charles Frazier, and Walking to Gatlinburg is no Cold Mountain... and for that I am thankful, because Mr. Howard has his own blend of New England charm. Howard Frank Mosher knows how to craft a yarn. He is a gifted storyteller and knows his history. Walking to Gatlinburg is engaging, his characters are filled with personality, and I loved it! Walking to Gatlinburg is an adventure, it's historical fiction, and it'll make you smile more than once...
Read an excerpt of Walking to Gatlinburg at Mr. Mosher's website, and while you're there check to see if he'll be making an appearance somewhere near you. He has a fascinating slide show to go along with his book tour called "Transforming History into Fiction: the Story of a Born Liar". You get a glimpse at how Walking to Gatlinburg came to be and how there's not only a liar in the Mosher family, but a murderer (or an almost murderer) in his family too. (Which makes for another great story!)