In 1973, after a temporary retirement, Wellman (1903-86) resumed writing fantasy stories set in and around the mountains of...

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THE VALLEY SO LOW

In 1973, after a temporary retirement, Wellman (1903-86) resumed writing fantasy stories set in and around the mountains of North Carolina. This post. 1973 collection, then, includes new adventures for Wellman's early heroes, along with the exploits of a couple of newcomers, plus a handful of miscellaneous tales. In all 26 entries, supernatural doings or creatures play a prominent part. Longtime fans will take pleasure in reacquainting themselves with Silver John, the wandering balladeer who defies evil by means of his silver-strung guitar and his pure heart. Likewise John Thunstone, who slays the Lord's enemies with his silver sword, reputedly forged by St. Dunstan; and Judge Pursuivant, expert de-haunter, now a hale, silver-haired octogenarian, whose blade is the twin of Thunstone's. By contrast, Wellman's more recent heroes lack savor and personality. The muscular Lee Cobbett fearlessly investigates supernatural phenomena, while young Hal Stryker, student of the occult, banishes evildoers and evil creatures. Among the beasties and malefactors put to flight here are: witches, vampires, animated bones, subterranean devils, tree-spirits, devil-worshippers, water-monsters, and hungry ghosts. More remarkable than Wellman's fairly ordinary monsters and thin, standard, familiar plots are his celebrations of mountain life, from the beautifully rendered cadences of southern speech to the evocative descriptions of people and places. Folksy and mountain-crafty work, with lots of low-key charm if few real shudders.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 1987

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1987