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James E. McTeer II

Hub City Press
$16.00 paperback
5 x 8
230 pages
May 1, 2015

Minnow is an otherworldly story of a small boy who leaves his dying father’s bedside hunting a medicine for a mysterious illness. Sent by his mother to a local druggist in their coastal town, Minnow unexpectedly takes a dark and wondrous journey deep into the ancient Sea Islands, seeking the grave dust of a long-dead hoodoo man to buy him a cure. With only a half-feral dog at his side, Minnow’s odyssey is haunted at every turn by the agents of Sorry George, a witch doctor who once stirred up a fever that killed 52 men. Meanwhile, a tempest brews out at sea, threatening to bring untold devastation to the coastal way of life. Minnow is a remarkable debut novel that evokes the fiction of Karen Russell and Lauren Groff—a Low Country “Heart of Darkness” about the mysteries of childhood, the sacrifices we make to preserve our families, and the ghosts that linger in the Spanish moss of the South Carolina barrier islands.


  • Winner of the 2014 South Carolina First Novel Prize
  • Named a Spring 2015 SIBA "Okra Pick"
  • A Lady Banks' Commonplace Book


“James McTeer's imagination is haunting, and its way with reality disturbing and funny and joyous.  I sped through the book, deep inside a genuine storyteller's spell. If a novel's chief magic is capturing the reader's mind, then this book is a spooky, brilliant debut.” —Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat
 "McTeer’s prose shines especially when he guides us deep into the Lowcountry, where...the landscape is eerie, beautiful, treacherous, and ripe with unsettling magic." Anca L. Szilágyi, LA Times Book Review
"James E. McTeer’s debut sounds like the stuff of Karen Russell, but an equally apt comparison might be Roald Dahl....It’s a meandering journey full of twists, chills and heartbreak." —Tray Butler, The Atlanta Journal Constitution
For the Storyteller, "Great New Books for Dad"
Garden & Gun
"An evocative novel that brings to life an intensely realized portrait of the South Carolina Lowcountry and sends its appealing young hero on a journey full of the strangeness of childhood and the difficult choices that come with growing up." —Kirkus, starred review
"This is a memorable coming-of-age story brimming with unexpected encounters with man, beast, and nature, and some magic thrown in for good measure." —Publishers Weekly
"James E. McTeer II’s Minnow is a chilling, suspenseful tale." —Terry Plumb, The Herald
"Minnow is an urgent novel, as stark and wild as the fairy tale deep in its bones. James McTeer writes with a white magic all his own; Minnow, the small brave boy he has summoned from a handful of grave-dust and a hurricane, will live with me for a long time to come." —Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia and The Monsters of Templeton
"Minnow is a simple story of an uncomplicated hero, yet this richly imagined novel delivers scenes and themes that reverberate all the way back to Dante and Homer. On his unholy quest through the islands off South Carolina, young Minnow battles Mediterranean-sized monsters and hellish storms, and leaves a path that maps a mythical and mysterious Southern wilderness now lost forever. McTeer has created an unforgettable character and a strange American underworld, and with unabashed tenderness leaves his distinct mark on storytelling in the South." —Lydia Netzer, author of How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky and Shine, Shine, Shine
“Minnow is a gorgeous fever-dream of a novel. McTeer's story of a young boy's quest achieves a narrative drive and depth that are rare in any novel, much less a debut effort. Minnow picked me up by the scruff of the neck and carried me along as powerfully as a novel by Pat Conroy or Toni Morrison.” —Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk