My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sassy, high-spirited and boy crazy, seventeen-year-old Darcie Edglon is abruptly taken away from the Charlotte, North Carolina world she knows three weeks after her parents are killed in an automobile accident. Responsible for her now, her older brother Ian orders her to pack her things without discussion or questions and prepare herself for an extended stay in the family’s mountain house near the Nantahala National Forest in Western North Carolina.
While the house is spacious and mountains near Franklin, Dillsboro and Cherokee are beautiful, this is hardly recompense for being wrenched away from her friends and activities in Charlotte. Her opinion begins to change, however, when she meets a recently widowed young Cherokee man named Wa’si.
“The Long Night Moon” is a magically told story about a teenager woman with a secret on the cusp of womanhood. The Cherokee and high-country themes run through the novel like pure mountain water, and are a compelling counterpoint to the rebellious, city-wise Darcie. With her attraction to Wa’si–whom her brother Ian has told her to leave alone–Darcie cannot help but be drawn into a culture and a place that will support her during the trials to come.
Darcie is a strong-willed, inventive and intelligent young woman. When the person she is becoming is severely tested, these traits will serve her well. While Darcie’s final test is wrapped up somewhat abruptly and the novel’s concluding chapter could have been more expansive, Elizabeth Towles’ novel is a very satisfying story.
On a personal note, I was drawn to this book partly because my family has made dozens of vacation trips over the last 50 years to the Western North Carolina mountains where the story is set. We owned property in the area, found lasting friendships and–of course–explored the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mt. Mitchell. Elizabeth Towles really makes this land come alive in “The Long Night Moon.” If we had a time machine, I believe the Cherokee ancestor in my wife’s family would agree.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of Garden of Heaven, The Sun Singer and Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.