Bittersweet in the Hollow
I was hooked on the premise of a murder mystery linked to Mothman. I didn’t expect how quickly I’d fall in love with the language that just drips with magic, the cast of amazing witchy women on every page, and the intricately woven story.
In this beautifully dark and enthralling YA, four sisters with unusual talents investigate a mysterious disappearance in their secluded Appalachian town. For fans of House of Hollow and Wilder Girls!
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.
Praise for Bittersweet in the Hollow
Praise for Bittersweet in the Hollow
A Kirkus Best YA Book of 2023
★"This multifaceted book successfully manages to be many things: a satisfying paranormal mystery, a family narrative examining the damage of secrets kept and the ways in which silence allows violence to grow, and a paean to the immense Appalachian forest and the small communities nestled between the trees. Luscious prose and a compelling setting make the book hard to put down. . . . Complex, well-realized, and engrossing." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★"Pearsall pulls on elements of Appalachian lore around Mothman but makes the creature and its origin uniquely her own, setting up Faustian deals and fateful tragedies that build tension and surely break hearts (both of characters and readers alike). The pace is impeccable . . . [D]eliciously atmospheric . . . Mainstays of the supernatural genres are elevated by Linden’s poignant narration." —BCCB, starred review
★“The writing is tense and suspenseful with each new discovery bringing more questions. VERDICT: A compelling story as the James women struggle to deal with their own secrets, and in the process, reveal some the darkest ones in town. A first purchase.” —School Library Journal, starred review
"The Appalachian witch book of my dreams! I wanted to crawl inside Bittersweet In The Hollow and live with the James women. Haunted golden boys, deeply nuanced, magical girls, and the threat of something lurking in the woods kept me turning the page long after dark. Pearsall's debut is positively spellbinding." —Sasha Peyton Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Witch Haven
"Bittersweet in the Hollow is a story rich in tradition and lore. Let the James sisters lead you deep into a world where beauty and evil hold hands in the shadows. Summer storms darken the skies and magic and mystery swirl like fog on the mountain." —Ginny Myers Sain, New York Times bestselling author of Secrets So Deep
"Kate Pearsall's Bittersweet in the Hollow makes the most of its setting, taking a fantastical premise full of witch girls, ghosts, and an original cryptid and peppering it with enough down-to-earth folk magic to make it feel like a comforting cup of herbal tea. The details and the lyrical yet accessible writing are what set this debut apart from other small town murder mystery YA novels." —NPR
"A captivating debut that blends a palpable atmosphere, visceral magic, and the depths of sisterly love to create a concoction even more enticing than the Harvest Moon’s famous tomato pie. . . . A spellbinding story rich with folklore and family." —Andrea Hannah, author of Where Darkness Blooms
"Debut author Pearsall balances paranormal thrills and the horrors of the central mystery to craft a cottage-core-infused world replete with cozy domestic enchantments, a close-knit female cast, and a captivating romance." —Publishers Weekly
“Pearsall’s authentic Appalachian setting is almost a character unto itself, and her subtle handling of the story’s magic will enthrall fans of A. R. Capetta and Melissa Albert. Thoughtfully blending mystery, thriller, and folk horror, Pearsall proves herself to be an author to watch.” —Booklist