A young boy sets out on an almost mythical quest through a vividly imagined American South in this debut novel.
Minnow’s father is dangerously ill and on the verge of dying, and the boy is sent to the drugstore to fetch a mysterious medicine. The pharmacist doesn't have the medicine, so Minnow must set out on an increasingly strange and dangerous quest through the South Carolina Sea Islands to acquire the price of a cure: grave dust from the resting place of Sorry George, a legendary witch doctor and practitioner of black magic. Minnow’s journey weaves through the lush and wild landscape of the islands, a setting described with such obvious fondness and simple clarity that it fills the novel with a solid presence of its own and adds its weight of reality to the story’s supernatural elements. As one might expect of a fairy-tale quest, Minnow’s travels take him from one striking episode to another. He meets strangers, both good and bad; receives advice, both wise and deceptive; and is beset by dangers that grow ever more epic. Throughout the story he remains a stubbornly noble hero, saved from too much perfection by believable childish innocence and decisiveness. When he comes across the more fantastical elements of the novel—“hoodoo” magic, the hauntings of Sorry George, ghosts and spirits—he accepts them with the same belief and fear that he gives to the more likely horrors of human cruelty and natural disaster, allowing the reader to also experience both the magical and realistic with equal vividness.
An evocative novel that brings to life an intensely realized portrait of the South Carolina Lowcountry and sends its appealing young hero on a journey full of the strangeness of childhood and the difficult choices that come with growing up.