A Reader's Opinion: THE UNQUIET GRAVE by Sharyn McCrumb


THE UNQUIET GRAVE is a haunting and well-written novel steeped in history. What a surprise when I started to read the book and realized it's not what I expected, and just as good as I had hoped. I love discovering new-to-me authors! Sharyn McCrumb has blended history, folklore, and a touch of mystery into THE UNQUIET GRAVE. This book is about The Greenbrier Ghost, a case and true account I had never heard about before. At first I thought it was going to be a simple ghost story, but the author went far and above this. From 1930 and 1897 in West Virginia, the author guides the reader through a fascinating and horrifying mystery of murder and how it took the murdered woman's ghost and an unrelenting mother, to see justice was done.

Emotions are powerful and the characters are complex—you either love them or hate them with gusto! The book synopsis perfectly describes what a reader can expect from the story, so I won't repeat any of that. This is one of those books that you just need to read to appreciate. What really grabbed me was the historical detail. I ended up reading into the actual case and history because the author piqued my interest so much. If you enjoy good Southern fiction, then you should give THE UNQUIET GRAVE a try.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars | Content Rating: 0 Hearts | Reviewed by: Kathy Scott


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From New York Times bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb comes a finely wrought novel set in nineteenth-century West Virginia, based on the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history—the case of the Greenbrier Ghost. Lakin, West Virginia, 1930 Following a suicide attempt and consigned to a segregated insane asylum, attorney James P. D. Gardner finds himself under the care of Dr. James Boozer. Fresh out of medical school, Dr. Boozer is eager to try the new talking cure for insanity, and encourages his elderly patient to reminisce about his experiences as the first black attorney to practice law in nineteenth-century West Virginia. Gardner's most memorable case was the one in which he helped to defend a white man on trial for the murder of his young bride—a case that the prosecution based on the testimony of a ghost. Greenbrier, West Virginia, 1897 Beautiful, willful Zona Heaster has always lived in the mountains of West Virginia. Despite her mother’s misgivings, Zona marries Erasmus Trout Shue, the handsome blacksmith who has recently come to Greenbrier County. After weeks of silence from the newlyweds, riders come to the Heasters’ place to tell them that Zona has died from a fall, attributed to a recent illness. Mary Jane is determined to get justice for her daughter. A month after the funeral, she informs the county prosecutor that Zona’s ghost appeared to her, saying that she had been murdered. An autopsy, ordered by the reluctant prosecutor, confirms her claim. The Greenbrier Ghost is renowned in American folklore, but Sharyn McCrumb is the first author to look beneath the legend to unearth the facts. Using a century of genealogical material and other historical documents, McCrumb reveals new information about the story and brings to life the personalities in the trial: the prosecutor, a former Confederate cavalryman; the defense attorney, a pro-Union bridgeburner, who nevertheless had owned slaves; and the mother of the murdered woman, who doggedly sticks to her ghost story—all seen through the eyes of a young black lawyer on the cusp of a new century, with his own tragedies yet to come. With its unique blend of masterful research and mesmerizing folklore, illuminating the story’s fascinating and complex characters, The Unquiet Grave confirms Sharyn McCrumb’s place among the finest Southern writers at work today.

Historical Fiction | 12 Sep 2017 | 368pp | Publisher: Atria Books

Format Read: E-Book | Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley


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