In rural Caball Hollow, surrounded by the vast National Forest, the James women serve up more than fried green tomatoes at the Harvest Moon diner, where the family recipes are not the only secrets.
Like her sisters, Linden was born with an unusual ability. She can taste what others are feeling, but this so-called gift soured her relationship with the vexingly attractive Cole Spencer one fateful night a year ago . . . A night when Linden vanished into the depths of the Forest and returned with no memories of what happened, just a litany of questions--and a haze of nightmares that suggest there's more to her story than simply getting lost.
Now, during the hottest summer on record, another girl in town is gone, and the similarities to last year's events are striking. Except, this time the missing girl doesn't make it home, and when her body is discovered, the scene unmistakably spells murder.
As tempers boil over, Linden enlists the help of her sisters to find what's hiding in the forest . . . before it finds her. But as she starts digging for truth--about the Moth-Winged Man rumored to haunt the Hollow, about her bitter rift with Cole, and even about her family--she must question if some secrets are best left buried.
Title: Bittersweet in the Hollow (Bittersweet in the Hollow #1)
Author: Kate Pearsall
Publisher: G.P. Putnam Sons Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House
Expected Publication Date: October 10, 2023
I want to thank G.P. Putnam Sons Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book to read and give my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
It's exciting to read a new witchy book for the fall season. Linden James and her family have lived in Caball Hollow for generations. They are not always well loved by those in town, but are often sought out for their ability to heal. But Linden has things she can't remember after disappearing and being found a year ago during a town festival. And her memories are a key to unlocking a 20 year old mystery and the mystery of her friend's unexpected death.
I really enjoy reading new authors who have a solid grasp of the craft of writing. Pearsall is one such author. I was immediately immersed in her world as she unfolded the scenery, the characters, the town secrets, and so much more. It was truly atmospheric and spooky! Her writing was so easy to read and flowed very well. She easily drew me in with her descriptors and imagery. And the pacing she set was truly perfect. The book alternates between the present and past, easily linking the two as we learn the story of the characters. I had a hard time coming to the end a chapter and not wanting to turn the page to the next.
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book, but it wasn't one filled with mystery and suspense. Combine with this the witchy powers of the James women and it makes for a very interesting tale, indeed. Each woman possessing a different power creating a world of magical realism. Linden's power in particular made much of the story come alive: she can taste emotions. Imagine being able to sense how others are feeling this way, and to know who they truly are just by taste alone! I enjoyed the character building for each of the sisters: Linden, Junipar, Sorell, and Rowan. Plus we get a look at the mother, grandmother, father, and love interest, Cole.
Pearsall did a nice job with the development of each and created very distinct characters.
I'm not really familiar with West Virginia so learning about the national forest and the local myth/legend of The Moth Winged man was fun. Also a little creepy. But to find out this folklore is steeped in something that may just be true is another realm entirely. I don't want to get into the specifics because I don't want to spoil things in the book but suffice it to say there's more to this legend than the stories have shown.
I enjoyed the romance in the book. It is in no way a central part of the book but it does lend an important aspect. It's sweet and timid and a bit shy. But it's palpable and does give a nice undercurrent to the book's plot. I would have liked to see a bit more about Linden and Cole, maybe some flashbacks to solidify the romantic relationship between the two. I think that would have given a better understanding of how their years long rift was important to their story.
Pearsall does a wonderful job with the mystery. She slowly builds the plot and reveals things you just do not see coming. Did i have my thoughts, I sure did. Were they right, yes and no. I'm glad I didn't figure out the whodoneit because it made the book's enjoy that much more enjoyable.
And if I can point out how gorgeous the cover is. I do hope they might come out with a special edition. It would look beautiful with an colored writing on the hard back part and stenciled edges!
The book does wrap up at the end, so I'm interested to see what Pearsall actually has planned for the second book in this fast paced YA fantasy that leads you on a trail of twists and turns sure to keep you on the edge or your seat.
Kate Pearsall developed a love for storytelling at a young age, often spinning tales of magical worlds and exciting adventures with her sisters. When she’s not writing, she can be found willfully indulging her curiosity by disappearing into museums, exploring new places, and becoming deeply submerged into obscure topics that inevitably make their way into future work.