Book Review: Season of The Crow
From the Jul. 26, 2015 Daily Courier, by Pam Bunch
Barry Yelton of Mooresboro has written what he describes as his first real novel in Season of the Crow. Yelton has written short stories, essays, poems and a blog. He has also written a fictionalized version of his family history in Scarecrow in Gray, which takes place during the Civil War and is set before his newest book.
Yelton said he hadn’t planned on writing another Civil War story, but he got talked into it.
“One of my friends, the librarian at Henrietta, Deb Womack, said she liked the book but complained about the ending. She wanted to know more,” he said.
Yelton told her the book was about his great-grandfather, Francis Marion Yelton, and about him going to war and coming home; and he came home, so it ended. But that wasn’t enough for Womack and she and other family and friends talked him into doing it.
“So I tried to create a novel in this new one that tells the story of what happened after he came home, which is all fiction,” Yelton said.
The first story, Scarecrow in Gray, is based on Yelton’s great-grandfather, Francis Marion Yelton, who grew up and lived in Rutherfordton, probably around the Camp Creek area, and is buried in the Camp Creek Church Cemetery according to Yelton.
“He got into the war late and was a member of the Rutherford County Confederate Militia. He was a lieutenant in the militia,” he said. “As I looked back through the list of militia men a lot of them were lieutenants, so it wasn’t a big honor.”
According to Yelton, the family legend goes that Francis Yelton was farming and he got tired of people accusing him of dodging the war by serving in the home guards. So he went to Camp Vance in Morganton in August of 1864, and enlisted and joined the 18th NC Volunteer Infantry.
“By that time Lee was backed up into the entrenchments around Petersburg,” said Yelton. “Francis Marion served there until the end of the war which was about April 1865, when Grant’s troops overran the Confederates – they were pretty well starved out – and he was wounded on the retreat and was with Lee when they surrendered at Appotmattox Courthouse. My first novel was a fictionalized version of that.”
In Season of the Crow Yelton says he tried to portray both the good and the bad side of the Confederate Veterans. “My great-grandfather plays the role of the hero and he plays the good side,” he said. “But I have some pretty nasty ex-Confederates that are kind of like the forerunners to the Klan. I call them the Night Riders. So the culmination and really the heart of the story has to do with the battle between the good ex-Confederates and the bad ones. That’s it in a nutshell.”
The story brings former slaves from Charleston, South Carolina up to Rutherford County in search of Francis Marion and the help they’ve heard he can give them. “And the way Francis and his family treated these folks, and another family that the parents were lynched right here in Rutherford County. And what happens to the children and how his wife Harriet … treated them and also some people treated them and [Harriet] because of that, that’s the key part of the story,” Yelton said.
Yelton said he read many books on the Civil War, including Shelby Foote’s three-volume set on the subject. … “I tried to make it as true to the period as possible,” he said.
Yelton says he isn’t sure if he’ll write another book, but if he does, he would like to set it in a more modern time.
“I don’t know, to be honest, it’s a lot of work,” he said. “I’ll just have to think about it.”
Season of the Crow is available at most bookstores.