Sarah’s Snippets Book Review: Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

August 6, 2015 Southern Fiction 30

Bull Mountain, Brian PanowichSouthern Fiction
Released July 7, 2015
304 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased

Headline

Brian Panowich’s debut novel is a jaw-dropping (yes, my jaw really did drop multiple times!) multi-generational family saga that feels like Southern “grit lit”, but reads like a thriller. It’s one of my favorite books of the summer and is going on my 2015 Summer Reading, Page Turners, and Books for Guys lists.

Plot Summary

North Georgia’s Bull Mountain has been run by one family of outlaws (the Burroughs) for generations, but when a federal ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) agent arrives to put a stop to the crime, Sheriff Clayton Burroughs’ family loyalty is tested.

Why I Read It

Shannon at River City Reading had good things to say about it and Katie at Bookish Tendencies glowing review sealed the deal for me.

Major Themes

Criminal dynasties, drugs, violence, law enforcement, loyalty, family

What I Liked Loved

  • As Katie at Bookish Tendencies warned, the first chapter blew my mind! My jaw was already on the floor and what did Panowich do? He made it drop again.
  • The story is told from various perspectives and jumps around in time, very much reminding me of the structure of Sara Taylor’s The Shore. Thanks to Sara Taylor, I knew what to do this time around and immediately started taking notes on the characters and their relationships! But, Bull Mountain‘s structure is not nearly as complicated as The Shore‘s and I ended up not needing most of my notes. I loved how this structure enabled Panowich to slowly reveal the true nature of things.
  • The Burroughs family makes their living through crime (the particular crime changes over generations) and reminded me of the Knox family in Natchez Burning (both families have one member in law enforcement). They’re like a redneck, mountain version of the Mafia and you do not mess with them if you value your life.
  • Once you get to a certain point in the story, this is not a book you can easily put down. The action really picks up in the second half and I stayed up way past my bedtime finishing the final quarter in one night.
  • I’d be remiss not to mention Bull Mountain‘s level of violence. If you can’t handle horrifying scenes, sometimes involving children, then this book isn’t for you. But, contrary to some other books I’ve read (Cry Father), the violence is integral to the story and serves a purpose (at least from the characters’ perspectives). Bull Mountain does not feel like a novel chock full of violence just for the shock value.

What I Didn’t Like

Nothing. This book is fantastic!

A Defining Quote

“There is a subtle symbiotic relationship between the land up here and the people who call it home that folks like yourself never seem to fully understand, no matter how many files you read, or training scenarios you run. It’s not your fault, you’re just not from here. It goes way beyond simple pride or honor. Pride is a brand-new red bike or a better-paying job. Up here it’s something deeper than bone. It’s not something that they earned or had to fight to get. They were born into it, and the fight comes on real hard when someone threatens to take it away. It’s an integral part of who they are – who we are.”

Good for People Who Like…

Multi-generational family sagas, “Grit Lit”, Southern Gothic fiction, dark stories, mind games, page turners.

Other Books You May Like

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
The Shore by Sara Taylor

30 Responses to “Sarah’s Snippets Book Review: Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich”

  1. Shannon @ River City Reading

    I’m glad to see this turned out to be such a great read for so many people. It definitely hooked me in the middle, just like you said, and it was nearly impossible for me to put down. I was let down by the end a bit, but otherwise it was a good read!

    • admin

      Oooh – interesting. I’d love to hear why you were let down by the end (DM me on Twitter if you want to share). I think I was ok with it, but my book memory is horrible and it’s a little fuzzy now…

      • admin

        Ha – I’m betting that happens a lot! And – I’d love to know how you originally wrote it! Glad to hear you’ll be a part of #30Authors…I’m participating as well on the blogger side. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your perspective!

  2. Lost in Literature

    Great review! I’ve seen it around but now I’m all interested.:)

    • admin

      Another way this one reminded me a bit of The Shore…a jaw dropping first chapter!

    • admin

      Yes, yes! I think you’d love it! As long as dark, violent stuff doesn’t bother you too much!

  3. Carmen

    Wow, I am definitely adding this one to my TBR. I added Mercy Louis by the way, and found it on sale on Amazon, so great.
    What I said about you discovering gems in books and liking books that make you think was supposed to be a compliment, and I think it came out wrong. I like your style, Sarah, and I trust your taste in books as well.

    • admin

      Oooh – so glad you found a deal on Mercy Louis – I loved that one and feel like it hasn’t gotten the play it’s deserved!
      And – oh my gosh – I did take it as a compliment, I’m sorry if my response made you think otherwise! And, I’m glad you like my taste in books 🙂

  4. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    I’ve heard good things about this from several bloggers too, but I’m not sure it’s my thing. in general, when I describe a book as ‘gritty’, it’s not a good thing for me!

    • admin

      It’s definitely gritty…and really violent…so might be best to avoid it if you know that’s not your thing.

  5. Diane

    I don’t know wh, but when your blogged about this somewhere before I thought you were not a fan of this one. Glad to see you loved it. I don’t have a copy yet.

    • admin

      It’s definitely super gritty..and brutal…but I really loved it. A great page turner if you’re looking for that!

    • admin

      Your 30 Authors list keeps getting more and more fantastic! Hopefully he’ll participate!

  1. Tuesday Intro - Bull Mountain - Running 'N' Reading

    […] Every Tuesday, fellow blogger Diane, at Bibliophile By the Sea, hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where bloggers share the first paragraph of the book they are currently reading or thinking about reading soon. I discovered this feature through my friend Sarah; she is one of the first book bloggers (at Sarah’s Book Shelves) that I discovered when I began this journey and she has highly recommended this one! You can read her full review here. […]

  2. Books that Make Perfect Holiday Gifts 2015 | Sarah's Book Shelves

    […] Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich Southern Fiction (Released July 7, 2015) 304 Pages Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon Summary: North Georgia’s Bull Mountain has been run by one family of outlaws (the Burroughs) for generations, but when a federal ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) agent arrives to put a stop to the crime, Sheriff Clayton Burroughs’ family loyalty is tested. My Thoughts: Brian Panowich’s debut novel is a jaw-dropping (yes, my jaw really did drop multiple times!) multi-generational family saga that feels like Southern “grit lit”, but reads like a thriller. It was one of my favorite books of the summer and is a contender for my Best Books of 2015 List. Continue Reading… […]

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