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Witches on the Road Tonight Paperback – January 10, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080214571X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802145710
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,183,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Holman (The Dress Lodger) investigates a dynasty of fear, mysticism, guilt, and love, beginning in Depression-era Appalachia through to contemporary Manhattan, in her uneven but heartbreaking latest. In 1940, Eddie Alley is a shy boy living in rural Virginia with his mother, Cora, who is dogged by rumors of witchcraft. A visit from a writer and photographer from the WPA opens Eddie's eyes to the possibilities outside his tiny town, starting him on the path to becoming Captain Casket, a cartoonish TV horror movie presenter. But beneath Captain Casket's makeup and kitsch lurk secrets and tortures waiting to burst out. Holman dodges back and forth over a 70-year period, checking in on Eddie, Cora, Eddie's daughter Wallis, and homeless teenager Jasper, whom Eddie takes in and acts as a reluctant lynchpin for a tortuous familial would-be love triangle. Though the story flags in the middle section, it does recover in time to map out the devastating consequences of sin and circumstance that were forged in the hills of Appalachia and tumbled down through the generations. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In the time it took to dash from a cornfield playground, Eddie Alley�s world turned upside down. A car, rare in the mountain hollows of 1940s Virginia, clipped Eddie as he ran from his taunting friends. Its driver, a slick New York writer accompanied by his glamorous girlfriend, shepherds Eddie to his mountain cabin to await his mother�s return. It would have been better for all concerned, though, if Eddie had been left by the side of the road, because his mother is known for her sorcery. Too late, the writer falls under her spell, but not before mesmerizing Eddie with the novelty of his hand-cranked movie projector and rare footage of a silent horror movie. Thirty years later, as a two-bit celebrity host of a campy, late-night TV creep show, Eddie is forced to reconcile the dark events of his past when a young boy comes into his care. Vibrantly atmospheric, Holman�s stealthily ambiguous novel of suspense glitters with the force of sins and indiscretions unbounded by time. --Carol Haggas --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

The book was really slow moving with very uninteresting stories and characters.
A. Harris
If it weren't for the fact that it was the final unread book I had on a long flight from Munich, I would have deleted it soon after starting.
Randy B.
I can't really take credit for "finding" this book because a friend recommended it to me.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Tom Carter on February 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There will be a moment, early on in Sheri Holman's Witches on the Road Tonight, when some little part of your conscious mind may push forward to ask, 'Am I reading about these spells and magic, or am I the object of them?' You have two choices when this moment comes. You may lay the book aside and find something less captivating, less atmospheric, and less powerful in its storytelling. Or you may choose to be in Holman's thrall until the final, heartbreaking page and beyond.

It is a rare writer who can pull us effortlessly across time and character and geography with the conjuring power that Holman demonstrates here. From a dogtrot cabin in Appalachia on the eve of the second world war to 1980s suburbs still scented with a rural perfume to post-Apocalyptic corners of contemporary New York, there is no false note. This is a dark family epic in which fear must be mastered and never quite can be.

Holman is an enchantress, whose knack for detail and narrative power will transport you. Witches on the Road Tonight is disturbing and enthralling and worth the deep and diligent reading that its careful conjuring on the page invites.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By DS on March 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sheri Holman has long been one of my favorite writers and her new novel does not disappoint. It is atmospheric, powerful, engaging, and astute. The various storylines are utterly enthralling and her original, measured handling of the supernatural elements in the novel entered my dreams. Line by line, Holman is one of the most captivating and powerful writers of her generation. By far, this is one of my favorite novels of the year.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Louise Wyatt on March 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Holman has created a haunting exploration of love and deprivation, imagination and nature, all shown in a myriad of forms.
Her witches do not take center stage; instead they lurk. I wondered about all sorts of powers that humans may imagine they have; religion makes an occasional appearance.

Questions such as where we choose to live, how we die, what we hide from ourselves, and the evidence of gratitude bubble up in the intertwined stories, tightly woven and exquisitely written. I think Holman's use of succinct words and striking metaphors, along with compelling characters and vivid sense of place, keep the story alive and moving. Like Dress Lodger, Witches will remain in my memory. Sheri Holman has honed her storytelling skills!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco VINE VOICE on May 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The oddly titled Witches on the Road Tonight opens with an accident. Tucker Hayes is working on a WPA project, collecting information for travelers in the Appalachian Mountains, when 8 year old Eddie dashes in front of his car. He's not badly injured, by Tucker insists on taking him to his home, a shack high in the hills. Eddie's mother, Cora, is out, and by the time she returns, it's too late for Tucker to hike back to the car. He spends the night, and his "dreams" are weird but highly erotic. For Cora knows all about the properties of plants and nature, and also has the power of shape shifting. What happens that night will determine their futures.

From this point on, author Holman does some shifting of her own, alternating times, places, and perspectives among her three principal characters. Tucker stays longer in the mountains than anticipated, and Eddie grows up to become a cult figure, "Captain Casket" on a nightly TV horror show. His daughter, Wallis, seems to have inherited her grandmother's penchant for the mystical, and she experiments with her powers on Jasper, the homeless teen taken in by her family.

Witches is written in thoughtful, sometimes lyrical prose, and the passages set in the Appalachians are particularly evocative and eerie. While it does have its otherworldly elements, the overriding theme deals with human fears and desires. As Eddie describes them, "There is the fear of failure and nuclear annihilation and snakes, of getting up in the morning, and then, of course, there is the fear of the dark, which is, as they all are, the fear of Death, which we dare not examine too closely while in life, lest it ruin all the more pleasurable fears of living and loving.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By KatPanama on April 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Finally, the first drop-my-jaw-in-awe book of 2011.

Some writers are a "brand" which is to say you know exactly what you're going to get when you pick up one of their books. So not so with Holman; you don't even know what time frame you might be inhabiting: the 15th century of "A Stolen Tongue," the 19th century of "The Dress Lodger" or the 20th century of "The Mammoth Cheese." Another Holman hallmark: her books invariably sport unusual titles.

I cannot fathom why there has been little buzz around this new novel. So far. Maybe I'm too eager and missed the opening reviews. The PW and Booklist reviews here on Amazon don't reflect the book I read and they're good reviews overall but lack the excitement of readerly greed satisfied so richly and rarely.

"Witches on the Road Tonight" is hallelujah-finest-kind. I had to rise early on a Saturday morning expressly to read the last 50 pages.

Why was I mesmerized (eponym alert)? Holman specializes in story telling and in this book she exceeds the bar. At the same time, the writing, language, depictions, evocations, great heart put flesh on her story and I don't mean it to sound muscular because the result delivers distilled but non-fussy elegance uncommon in a very good story. The WPA element doesn't hurt, either. (Yes, we're in the 20th century again but roaming about some.) Tired Appalachia here is fulsomely rendered -- luscious, gorgeous and time-out-of-mind dangerous.

I expect I've found the book I'll be evangelizing this year.
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