Bittersweet in the Hollow by Kate Pearsall

Bittersweet in the Hollow by Kate Pearsall is set in Caball Hollow in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, where legend and lore thrive. Pearsall tells the story of the James family and the lives of its women whose legacy is superstition. A family of suspected witches, the James women use minerals and locally grown plants to create infusions, tinctures, and balms. With these homemade remedies and whispered words, they treat people’s ailments.

However, this story extends beyond a family and natural remedies to become about our deepest desires, a belief in possibility, and the sacrifices we are willing to make in the name of love.

While each of the James women has her own unique traits and abilities, Linden serves as the novel’s protagonist. Quiet, curious, and a capable baker who loves deeply, Linden can taste and smell the emotions of others while her mama has a knack for making the broken beautiful.

As the story unfolds, Linden is trying to weave together any common threads that might connect Elam McCoy’s disappearance and Dahlia’s murder to the night she herself went missing. All of this mystery is tied to the legend of the Moth-Winged Man and the town’s celebration of the Moth Festival. “On the night of the Moth Festival, graduating seniors and their friends go to the place in the Forest where Elam McCoy is said to have disappeared and call out to the Moth-Winged Man three times. If he appears, he might grant you your deepest desire. Or he might mark you for death” (41).

In her search, Linden’s discoveries put her in a perilous position. Hoping to escape the heartache she has seen in so many others because of love, Linden wishes for something to protect her heart from being vulnerable. Ultimately, Linden must find her strength and own her power. On her journey of trying to figure out who she is, Linden encounters some of the world’s real monsters, as well as some of its supernatural ones.  Her grandmother speaks some of the truest words when she tells Linden: “You can’t find [the answer of who you are] in someone else” (192).

  • Posted by Donna

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