“There’s real magic in John Hood’s new novel Mountain Folk. Actually, make that magics, plural . . . Beyond the epic fantasy itself, the best magic in Mountain Folk is the sorcery that will make early American history accessible to a wide swath of ages, tween to adult, who would otherwise eschew the subject. Not since John Jakes’ The American Bicentennial series has the story of our nation’s founding been so engaging and approachable.”
“Fairies, elves, dwarves, water maidens, monsters, and more. Soldiers and heroes of the American Revolution. Founding Fathers of our country like Washington and Jefferson. Cherokee and Shawnee women and warriors. A minister turned soldier and politician who is unembarrassed to quote Scripture. Throw all these ingredients into a stew pot of fiction, turn up the burner, and you soon have bubbling on the stove John Hood’s Mountain Folk.”
“Hood doesn’t miss the chance to present challenges to his fairy folk, as they grapple with their decisions as whether to help or hinder the Americans’ cause for liberty . . . While certainly there is suspension of disbelief when reading a book of fantasy fiction, there is also the underlying historical narrative that sparks curiosity and admiration about the cast of characters who so elegantly and effectively connected to create this country.”
“It might not take a spell to change an award-winning political columnist into a fantasy writer — it could be argued that the two genres are not dissimilar — but how else to explain magic striking twice? . . . Things are not always as they seem in Hood’s forest, and even the most ardent student of history will stumble upon enchanting misdirections that nevertheless point true north. This is history at its best: frolicking and fun, challenging and rewarding.”
“We meet real historical characters, from Tecumseh to Andrew Jackson, and experience actual historical events. Hood doesn’t change history to fit his narrative. He sticks closely to the facts and works the magic into it . . . The story is at its best when it evokes the historical themes of slavery, the westward expansion, and the clash between white and native civilizations. Hood addresses these issues with a subtlety and sensitivity that will make you think.”
“It will give you a new love of the tall tales that you heard as a child, but have since long forgotten. Furthermore, Hood’s description of the American landscape will make you see the land with new eyes. The forests, mountains, and rivers take on a magic all their own ... Students of American history will see their history anew. And those who forgot everything they learned about American history and folklore will have a renewed appreciation for their country.”
John Hood: “Although my novel has many non-human characters, I actually use them to illustrate the inescapable realities of human nature. We are all fallen creatures. We yield to temptation.”
John Hood: “Thrilling escapes, confrontations with magical monsters, Revolutionary War battles, and Hamilton and Jefferson debate banking regulations. I mean, what more could you ask for?”
In a Kings Mountain Herald feature, John Hood discusses the Mountain Folk chapter devoted to the Patriots — including Isaac Shelby, John Sevier, and Davy Crockett’s father — who fought at Kings Mountain.
John Hood: “There are many explanations for fairy belief. It’s reassuring to believe good and bad events aren’t just random. That powerful forces are at work, magical forces to be tapped or propitiated.”
John Hood: “Ideas do have consequences. But they are contingent on factors beyond the substance and soundness of the ideas themselves. Human beings aren’t calculating machines. We're storytellers.”
John Hood: “We should make greater use of fiction to teach fact. Weaving historical content into fiction with strong characters and compelling plots makes it easier for readers to recall and interpret facts.”
Do favorable reviews of Mountain Folk constitute political ads on behalf of zombie candidates or Elf-rights legislation? John Hood uses the absurdity of a Facebook rule to argue for common sense on free speech.
In this feature, John Hood explains how he came to include his own relatives in the plot of Mountain Folk. “I wasn’t just telling stories about colonial Americans. I was, in a sense, telling my own family’s story.”
John Hood: “To broaden and deepen our understanding of our country’s rich history need not harm America’s founding principles or national unity. It need not result in canceled heroes.”
John Hood: “We need histories, novels, films, music, and art that embrace a common American creed, that celebrate its inspiring past & boundless future. We need more stories of heroic Americans.”
In this column for dozens of newspapers, author John Hood describes his book’s themes by referring his days in 4-H. The four “H”s in Mountain Folk include history, heroes, heritage, and human nature.
Pilot Mountain, a key setting for Mountain Folk, is just a few miles from the town that inspired the Mayberry of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Its devotion to timeless moral truths continues to draw many fans.
John Hood: If the two frontier heroes ever met, “the resulting dialogue may well have resembled the banter between the gallant Captain America and the wisecracking Iron Man in the Avengers movies.”
Though “an ill-conceived war carried out by an ill-prepared country with ill-defined goals,” the War of 1812 produced many heroes who led or inspired generations of Americans. John Hood tells their stories.
“People want to live in a world where not all mysteries have been solved, where something furry, slimy, or improbably gargantuan may yet be lurking in the darkest corners of their mental map.”
When Americans needed hope, Zora Neale Hurston offered a character from African-American folklore, High John de Conquer. John Hood explains why he featured her version of the character in Forest Folk.
“How many learn about the temptations of power not by reading philosophy but by witnessing the One Ring corrupt its bearers? How many learn courage not from classic literature but from Harry Potter?”
John Hood: “Honor matters. It’s not the only thing that matters, of course, but to deny its significance in human affairs—including affairs among nations—is a position far removed from realism.”
“With the possible exception of his great-nephew Stephen, author of The Red Badge of Courage, Ichabod is the most famous Crane of all, if only for a fictional namesake. And he lived in Norfolk for many years.”
John Hood’s Memorial Day-themed piece profiles five U.S. military commanders who died performing their duties — including War of 1812 hero Zebulon Pike, whose final battle is depicted in Forest Folk.
“The only conception of America expansive enough to include three hundred and thirty squabbling millions of us is a common creed of liberty, justice, and opportunity for all.”