Walking to Gatlinburg by Howard Frank Mosher

by Gwen

Walking to Gatlinburg

Walking to Gatlinburg by Frank Mosher

Picture The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and Huck Finn getting together and giving birth to a book set during the Civil War. You know that you are curious now.

Mosher serves up 17 year old, Morgan Kinneson on the odyssey of his life in Walking to Gatlinburg. Morgan loses his ‘passenger’ as the last conductor before Canada on the Underground Railroad and then begins an odyssey to find not only his MIA brother, but to decipher a rune given to him by the murdered slave. The trip starts out in Vermont and ends months later in Tennessee, hence the Gatlinburg in the title.

This book was downright crazy pants! I had a hard time getting into it at first because of the backwoods language. Just when I started to get into it, Morgan met up with a talking tortoise. Yes, a talking tortoise. Okay, so he was sick with fever, but really? Honestly, I thought of putting the book down right there, but I hung in there.

Morgan meets a great cast of interesting characters on his quest to finding his brother, Pilgrim. There were times that it got sort of predictable though. He walks for a while, meets someone weird that points him in a new direction, walks for a while, and so on. He learns something about himself and the world around him with each new escapade.

There is a lot going on in Walking to Gatlinburg and in some ways that really makes it hard to review. I think that for me, the strongest part of the book was the setting. Mosher did an outstanding job of painting the Civil War period as the world gone mad. Soldiers were going off for a big adventure, yet coming back haunted and missing limbs. No one fighting really knew understood what they were fighting for. People were chattel and while people were so willing to cheer for the Emancipation Proclamation, they really had little intention to making room in their lives for this influx of newly freed slaves.


It’s 1864, and seventeen-year-old Morgan Kinneson is helping a runaway slave named Jesse to freedom in Canada. But the chance to kill a moose that would feed his family for months lures Morgan away, and on his return he finds that Jesse has been murdered.

Desperate and guilt-ridden, Morgan decides to travel south from northern Vermont through war-torn America to the Great Smoky Mountains, searching for his older brother Pilgrim, who is now missing from the Union Army. Morgan’s determination to locate the brother he idolizes and reclaim what little family and honor he feels he has left is a dangerous gambit, at best.

When Morgan learns that Jesse’s killers are on his tail, and that he unknowingly possesses something of dear value, his trek to Gatlinburg becomes a journey of intense survival.

I am left with this suggestion, do not trust the synopsis blurb above. It is about the most misleading one I have ever come across. Pick Walking to Gatlinburg up and turn the pages with an open mind. Let it take you on an adventure and take from it what you will.

Walking to Gatlinburg by Frank Mosher

  • Hardcover: 352 pages


  • Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books (March 2, 2010)



  • ISBN-10: 0307450678



  • ISBN-13: 978-0307450678Thanks goes to Read It Forward for the copy they sent me.



One Comment to “Walking to Gatlinburg by Howard Frank Mosher”

  1. I loved reading this! Just a glimpse into this violent period of the Civil War.

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