Bittersweet in the Hollow

Putnam. Oct. 2023. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593531020.
Gr 9 Up–The James women are special; some people in Bittersweet Hollow, WV, even call them witches. The talent of Linden, the third of four sisters, is feeling and tasting people’s emotions and the ability to influence people’s feelings. The previous summer, she disappeared on Solstice when she and classmates gathered in the woods to call up the Moth-Winged Man, a local folk legend in their parts. She was found suffering from amnesia. A year later, Linden discovers her friend Dahlia’s body in the woods and is determined to find her killer. Dahlia’s case is tied to a young boy who went missing in the same area almost 20 years ago, and the Moth-Winged Man myth. The teen’s investigation leads to her family being vilified, their business vandalized, and her life threatened. Throughout, she struggles with her relationship with Cole, the local golden boy, who seems to shun her since her disappearance. Aided by her three sisters and their supernatural talents, along with their Aunt Sissy’s willingness to share family secrets, Linden slowly unravels where folklore meets reality and the sacrifices her family has made. The story flashes back and forth from the present to the night she went missing as she recovers more of her memories. 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.

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