The New Voice of the Mountains

“After reading The Witching Tree by Brian Keene, I can comfortably say that he has become the 21st Century’s answer to Manly Wade Wellman.”  — Bob Freeman via Twitter

Yep, that’s what I said, and I meant every word of it.

Manly Wade Wellman’s name is not so widely known these days, which pains me to no end. As something of an occult detective aficionado, Wellman’s tales of John Thunstone, Judge Pursuivant, and Silver John the Balladeer have always struck a chord with me, particularly Thunstone. For sixty years Wellman penned some of the best speculative fiction ever written, earning numerous awards and accolades (as well as the ire of William Faulkner after he was bested by a mere “sci-fi and horror writer” for the coveted Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine award). Talking to readers under the age of forty, I am amazed that so few of them have even heard of Wellman, let alone have read any of his work.

But you know what, those kids under forty are reading Brian Keene.

I see Keene as the literary successor to Wellman, capturing the essence and spirit of  “the Voice of the Mountains”, particularly in his novels Dark Hollow, Ghost Walk, and A Gathering of Crows, and the short story I just finished reading, The Witching Tree (starring ex-Amish Magus Levi Stoltzfus). Stoltzfus would be right at home on a page penned by Wellman and Keene infuses the character with so much warmth and gravitas that you are instantly charmed by the eccentric occult detective.

I fell in love with Levi from the moment I first read him.

I think you will too.

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