Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Review: "Witches on the Road Tonight" by Sheri Holman

Sheri Holman's Witches on the Road Tonight is an interesting and well-written book about the ties of family and heritage, and how the past affects our future. In rural Virginia during the Depression, young Eddie Alley and his mother live a tremendously humble existence, hunting for ginseng and other roots, while his father works in the Civilian Conservation Corps. One day, he encounters a writer and photographer who are profiling rural life for the WPA, and this visit awakens Eddie's ability to dream of a life away from his poor existence and his mother, who is rumored to be some sort of witch.

Years later, Eddie is the host of a campy late-night horror show on television, living with his wife, Ann, and 12-year-old daughter, Wallis. When Ann and Eddie open their home to Jasper, a homeless teenager who has been living at the station, Jasper's presence awakens feelings in Eddie he had long kept hidden, and in Wallis, who wonders if she could use her grandmother's powers of witchcraft to make someone love her.

I'll admit that this book wasn't quite what I expected, as reviews I had read intimated that the ghost story-angle would figure more prominently. But even without that, the story is a very interesting one, and I found myself wanting to keep reading to see what happened. The sections of the book that told of young Eddie and his mother I actually found the most interesting, because I felt a few of the other characters weren't quite as complex, and their actions and motivations were fairly confusing from time to time. But all in all, this a thought-provoking and intriguing book, with characters that you'll remember after you've finished reading.

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