Skip to Main Content

About The Book

From the author of the “wonderfully crafted” (San Francisco Book Review) Ghost on Black Mountain comes a haunting gothic novel set in the Depression-era South about two young women who form an unlikely alliance when the spirit of a dead woman takes up residence in their home.

Shelly Parker never much liked Faith Dobbins, the uppity way that girl bossed her around. But they had more in common than she knew. Shelly tried to ignore the haints that warned her Faith’s tyrannical father, Pastor Dobbins, was a devil in disguise. But when Faith started acting strange, Shelly couldn’t avoid the past—not anymore.

Critically acclaimed, award-winning author Ann Hite beckons readers back to the Depression-era South, from the saltwater marshes of Georgia’s coast to the whispering winds of North Carolina’s mystical Black Mountain, in a mesmerizing gothic tale about the dark family secrets that come back to haunt us.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Storycatcher includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Shelly Parker, a sixteen-year-old servant who works for the tyrannical Pastor Dobbins and his family, has the gift of sight. She’s grown accustomed to coexisting with the spirits of the dead who roam Black Mountain, telling Shelly their stories and warning her of the dangers that surround her. When the ghost of Arleen Brown, a poor woman who died on the mountain during childbirth five years earlier, begins to pursue Pastor’s daughter Faith—hell-bent on revealing a terrible secret that she took to her grave—Shelly is the only person who can help her. The two young women soon find themselves tangled up in a web of secrets and lies that takes them from Black Mountain to the murky saltwater marshes of Georgia, uncovering long-hidden truths that put their own lives in danger.  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. The Storycatcher is told by multiple narrators and out of chronological order. How does this affect your understanding of the events that take place in the novel and your opinions of the main characters? How do you think the story would be different if it were told from just one perspective? If you had to pick just one narrator to share her story, whom would you choose?
2. Which character do you sympathize with or connect to the most? Why? Which character are you personally the most similar to?
3. The spirits of Black Mountain and the Ridge in Darien, Georgia, interact with several of the living characters and influence the events that unfold. Compare the way each living character responds to the ghosts. Consider how the ghosts directly affect each character’s actions.
4. Of all the supernatural gifts of the characters, which would you most like to have? Why?
5. Discuss how each of the characters in The Storycatcher approaches the ideas of justice and revenge. Which characters represent a traditional justice system? Which characters represent vigilantism?
6. In the aftermath of Arleen Brown’s death, Shelly Parker observes of Pastor Dobbins: “In that music was the man a woman would want to marry, the softness, the person who could mourn a young dead girl. Everyone had a decent side” (page 24). Is Shelly right about Pastor Dobbins? Does everyone have a decent side? How does this manifest in the other characters?
7. The various relationships between women—whether between mother and daughter, white and colored, or employer and employee—are central to The Storycatcher. Discuss how these women make up the backbone of the Black Mountain community. Why is it important for these women to act as confidantes for one another?
8. Discuss the significance of the names in The Storycatcher: Black Mountain, Faith, Will, Nada, Miss Tuggle. Why do you think the author chose each of these names?
9. Consider the alliances on the mountain. Who is loyal to whom? How do these loyalties change throughout the novel?
10. According to the spirit Emmaline, everyone has his or her own story to tell. What do you make of the ending to Armetta’s story? Was Arleen’s story truly finished? Mary Beth Clark’s?
11. How does Will’s character act as a bridge, a connection, between the women in the novel? Compare and contrast his relationships with Faith, Shelly, Ada, and Nada.
12. Shelly’s exposure to the poetry of Langston Hughes opened up a new world for her and contributes to her evolution throughout the novel. Which novel, short story, or poem has most significantly influenced your own life? How?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Have you ever had a paranormal encounter? Share your own personal ghost stories with your fellow book club members.
2. Ann Hite’s first novel, Ghost on Black Mountain, introduces readers to the inhabitants of Black Mountain, focusing on the relationship between Nellie and Hobbs Pritchard. Read Ghost on Black Mountain for a future book club meeting; discuss the similarities and differences between the two novels set on Black Mountain.
3. Visit to find a local haunted house in your hometown. Plan a visit with your book club for your next meeting and come up with your own ghost story.

About The Author

Photograph by Jerry Hite

Ann Hite’s debut novel, Ghost on Black Mountain, not only became a Townsend Prize Finalist but won Georgia Author of the Year in 2012. Her personal essays and short stories have been published in numerous national anthologies. The Storycatcher is her second Black Mountain novel. Ann is an admitted book junkie with a library of over a thousand books. She lives in Smyrna, Georgia, with her husband and daughter, where she allows her Appalachian characters to dictate their stories.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Gallery Books (September 10, 2013)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451692310

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

"Steeped in lushly-drawn landscapes and teeming with mystery, The Storycatcher is a beautifully-rendered story of the journey for redemption and justice that drives the human heart, even beyond the flesh--and the knots of family we tie, and sometimes must untangle, along the way. I was utterly absorbed from the first, riveted and captivated, and no more able to leave the side of Ann Hite's haunted characters than the ghosts that are leading them toward their impossible secret."

– Erika Marks, author of The Guest House

The Storycatcher is a riveting tale of right, wrong, and vengeance. Restless souls (on Earth, as well as from the spirit world) can find peace only through justice, and at times, only by working together. Ann Hite writes brilliantly about the human condition – in this world and the next.”

– Amy Hill Hearth, author of Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society

"There is a powerful new Southern voice sweeping across the literary landscape and it belongs to Ann Hite . . . [She] is a born storyteller who has crafted a mesmerizing and haunting tale. The Storycatcher is one that you’ll want to put at the top of your reading stack and savor."

– Michael Morris, author of Man in the Blue Moon

"The Storycatcher transports you high atop rural Black Mountain, North Carolina, smack in the middle of a gothic tale so haunting and with characters and voices so authentic you’d swear you were living amongst them. Ann Hite’s ability to weave the reader through the pages of the story catches you off guard with each and every spooky twist. Impossible to put it down. Brilliant!"

– Lisa Patton, bestselling author of Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter

“Haunting and daring, The Storycatcher grasps readers by the wrists and pulls them into world where the only boundary is the one of unfinished business. Ann Hite is a fearless writer who leaves her readers breathless, always looking back over their shoulders, unaware of the turn up ahead. The Storycatcher is riveting southern gothic literature. Hite has written an unforgettable novel that is lyrical and beautiful, absorbing and graceful, proving that she herself is a master storycatcher."

– Karen Spears Zacharias, author of Mother of Rain

"The intricate plot with its twists and turns, real and supernatural, delivers suspense, but what holds the reader in the end is the lyrical storytelling."

– Booklist

"Pull up a rocker and gaze into the hills at sundown. Old-time front porch storytelling unfolds in this dark, twisted tale where hardscrabble lives, murderous secrets, and ghosts intersect on a mysterious mountain."

– New York Times bestselling author Beth Hoffman

"An eerie page-turner told in authentic mountain voices that stick with the reader long after the story ends."

– Amy Greene

"Haunting, dark and unnerving, Hite's brilliant modern gothic casts an unbreakable spell."

– New York Times bestselling author Caroline Leavitt

"The authentic voice of Nellie Pritchard, who comes to Black Mountain as a new bride, wraps around you and pulls you deep into this haunted story. Ann Hite delivers an eerie page-turner that I couldn’t put down."

– New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson

"The inhabitants of Black Mountain live side-by-side with the spirits of the dead, throw spells and dig for treasure, solve their problems with careful alliances and the occasional murder. This is a story where the spookiness of a mountain village comes to life through gritty characters whose feelings and motivations seem all too similar to our own. Ann Hite captures their voices so well, you'd swear they're whispering into your ear. Ghost on Black Mountain is captivating."

– Rebecca Coleman

"Will intrigue readers eager for a Southern Gothic tale, and suggests a promising future for the Black Mountain novels to come."

– Publisher's Weekly

"Multiple female narrators add dimension and perspective to Hite's first novel, and the sightings and visits from the spirits are often appropriately eerie . . . [An] artfully woven tale."

– Library Journal

"[Ann Hite] twists folklore with the genres of Southern Gothic, paranormal and literary fiction like a fine, fat pretzel, a guilty pleasure after midnight . . . A richly layered tale of haints, hoodoo and heebie-jeebies, mayhem and murder, love and betrayal."

– Alabama Mobile Register

“Hite paints a loving portrait of rural mountain life in the early twentieth century, and characters are nuanced and true."

– Atlanta Magazine

"A haunting Southern gothic tale . . . wonderfully crafted."

– San Francisco Book Review

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Ann Hite