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Witches on the Road Tonight

3.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  836 Ratings  ·  184 Reviews
By the best-selling author of The Dress Lodger, Sheri Holman's new and most ambitious novel to date, Witches on the Road Tonight, uncovers the secrets and lies that echo through three generations of one Appalachian family. It is a deeply human, urgent exploration of America's doomed love affair with fear.On the eve of World War II, eight-year-old Eddie Alley lies in bed wa ...more
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published January 28th 2011)
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Ok so I will cut to the chase, since that is what I do best. I liked this book but I also had some problems with it too. Shocking, - yes I know.
I love witchlore, I don’t know what it is about it that is so fascinating, ok, maybe I do, but either way, I am yet to read a book about witches that I thought was a total waste of time. That being said let me get to what I thought.

Sheri Holman has a distinct writing style in this book, which I quite enjoyed. You are never at a loss for physical descri
Kat Warren
Apr 09, 2011 Kat Warren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Finally, the first drop-my-jaw-in-awe book of 2011.

Some writers are a "brand" which is to say you know exactly what you're going to get when you pick up one of their books. So not so with Holman; you don't even know what time frame you might be inhabiting: the 15th century of "A Stolen Tongue," the 19th century of "The Dress Lodger" or the 20th century of "The Mammoth Cheese." Another Holman hallmark: her books invariably disport unusual titles.

I cannot fathom why there has been little buzz arou
I would have liked a whole book just about the Appalachian witch, Cora, but instead it jumps all around--from the mountains to NYC; from WWII to 1967 to 1980 to the present and back; from one person's view to another person's view to the writer's narration. In one chapter Ann is referred to as Mom, her mother, and Ann--I thought another character that I had missed was telling this part of the story. The book is leading up to two murders, but neither are convincingly pulled off. One murder is unr ...more
Teresa Calhoun
Feb 13, 2011 Teresa Calhoun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's a primal need in all of us to live between opposites --as if we can only appreciate one end of the physical or emotional spectrum in proximity to the other. We come inside from a bone-chilling day and revel in the warmth. Comfort and fear are among the earliest opposites we experience; we cry because we do not yet have words, and someone comes and holds us close and attends to our needs.

One suspects that Sheri Holman had a childhood that included sitting around campfires--experiencing th
May 25, 2012 Adam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Witches on the Road Tonight is much like the monster in the Frankenstein film referenced throughout the book. It is an amalgam of different parts stitched together in such a way that the product is displeasing to those who encounter it. The portion of the story set in 1940s Appalachia was well-written and mysterious. Holman's description of place was rich and her usage of carefree WPA workers in an unfamiliar territory was a clever take on a classic horror movie plot scenario. The portion of th
Jan 24, 2013 Elaine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This book started off wonderfully, with an intriguing setting full of menace (a sophisticated couple -- a writer and a photographer traveling for the WPA in 1940 -- get themselves stranded in a remote Appalachian cabin, with a woman who just might be a witch). Holman's prose is lush, and she creates some heartpounding scenes of dread -- there is never a problem believing in Holman's version of witchery. The problem is that the book becomes meandering -- we lose track (literally) of Tucker and So ...more
Oct 29, 2013 Jamie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, historical
This was one of the more weird and anti-climatic books I've ever read. It left me still wondering what happened to a certain character in the end, maybe even more than one character. It was actually very well written with great thoughts about human nature. The parts I didn't like were about ALL the characters behaviors. They were all well developed, but heartless and I didn't like any of their morals. NONE of them.
It is about a family of poor Appalachia decent, that has legends and stories in t
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
1/5 stars

This is a review that I knew I should write. However, this is a book that I wish I could wipe from my memory. Yes it was that bad. Sitting down to write this review has been a bit of a struggle. However I am going to try. There will be spoilers. I tried to avoid character names and specifics, but the spoilers are necessary to understand why I feel so strongly about this book.

I picked up Witches on the Road Tonight because I always find myself looking for books with Appalachian roots. We
Mar 31, 2011 Corinna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at the last minute when checking out at the library... read the back and thought... hmmm ... interesting and so I checked it out.
In my opinion... interesting would be a good word to describe this read. It is a book I will remember... but I glad to be done with it.
At times it was frustrating to me due to the time warp back and forth... I found it hard to follow.
At about half way through I read the synopsis again... to get a better idea of where the story might be going. I was
Like the Frankenstein monster, the book is assembled from several plot lines that don't mesh very well. Her writing is fantastic, but it doesn't make up for what a mess this is.

Later note - I 'unstarred'. Cathleen Schine's review in the NYRB and several days of thinking about the book has altered my opinion some. It seems more of an ambitious failure now. But I don't want my low review to put off anyone else wanting to read it.
Just finished ‘Witches on the Road Tonight’ by Sheri Holman. It was interesting. Not exactly what I thought it would be. The story jumps from the past to the present and sometimes in between. It is the tale of a dying weather man, Eddie, who also hosts a weekly horror movie night on a local television station. He grew up in the Appalachians in a place called Panther Gap. It’s the 40′s and his mother is a reputed witch. He is ostracized by the local kids and while running away from a beating runs ...more
Aug 24, 2011 Bondama rated it liked it
If I had not just finished reading "Once Upon a River" by Bonnie Jo Campbell, I probably would have rated this book more highly, particularly as they seem to be aimed at the same reading audience.

I got the book from the library, having heard some good things about it, but quite honestly, the writing style simply drove me crazy. There are far too many main characters:: Cora, a mountain witch of whom it was said that she could shed her skin at night and "ride" any man. Eddie, her son who grows up
Jan 19, 2012 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bizzarro, fiction
Witches on the Road Tonight is a complicated book. I think it is quite original although "uneven". I always try to read a book carefully and I admit to being a bit confused by this one. I am not exactly levelling this as a criticism. Gray areas are generally fine with me in fiction.

Other reviewers have pointed out that the characters are not exactly likeable people and I agree. However, I found an affinity with Eddie, who I interpreted as the lynch pin who tied the many other personalities in th
Here's another one I was torn on. I LOVED the Virginia setting. She captured the mountain forests so well that I could feel myself standing among the trees, hunting for ginseng, listening for a panther. (There's even a character who's working for the CCC building Skyline Drive - awesome!) Holman effectively bounced around in time - 1940, 2011, 1980, 1967. The witch part was creepy, not like the bubbly witches you find in paranormal romances these days. The 1940 and 1980 storylines paralleled eac ...more
So, to quote a certain failed Congressional wannabe, I am not a witch, nor have I ever been one. Right? Because they're all, we're going to meet over here at midnight, and I'm eh, no, I go to bed at 9:30. The supernatural life is not good for morning people like me.

And anyway, I'm not sure what exactly is useful about being a witch. Flying around would be fun, I suppose, if you're not prone to motion sickness, but the traditional witchy things - withering crops, spoiling milk, generally being a
May 02, 2011 Terence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: NYRB review
Shelves: wishlist
Witches on the Road Tonight has proven to be as enjoyable a read as Holman’s earlier efforts (The Dress Lodger and The Mammoth Cheese), and I am looking forward to the day when I move up to #1 on my library’s hold list for her first novel, A Stolen Tongue.

Holman’s novels, so far, have reminded me in some ways of Sylvia Townsend Warner’s (which would explain why I like them so much). On the surface, the three novels I’ve read could have been written by three different authors – The Dress Lodger t
Marcie Crandall
Aug 18, 2011 Marcie Crandall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am so torn by this book! I loved it and I hated it. It gave me hope in humanity and made me feel like all hope is lost. Even as I type, I'm not sure how many stars it deserves...
I will start with the good. Holman's writting is absolutely beautiful. Her metephors are flawless. I found myself bookmarking page after page on my Kindle. Here are a few of my favorites.
"We need only for life to teach us the humility with which to give thanks."
"There is always farther to go and places you've yet to
aPriL does feral sometimes
'Witches on the Road Tonight' by Sheri Holman is majestic. It is stunning. I was so surprised at its page-turning drama and beautiful writing! Even more amazing it is only 263 pages long!

This novel is pure Grand Opera, folks!

The novel won The Shirley Jackson Award in 2011. It will not suit some readers, but omg, it suited me just fine as an entertaining mystery. For me, it is a jewel of a book - a well-written, dark fantasy story and a family drama with heart and soul. However, the story seems
Chadwick Saxelid
Nov 23, 2014 Chadwick Saxelid rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of the Concordian.

Love is a ruthless monster.

That simple, yet difficult to understand, not to mention painful to learn, truth seems to be the only fully developed idea in Sheri Holman’s award winning novel, Witches on the Road Tonight. Beyond that I was at a complete loss as to what the whole “Ginseng Hunt” of the story was supposed to be about.

The novel focuses on two pivotal moments in the life of Edward Alley, a former weatherman and TV
Lora King
Sep 08, 2011 Lora King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is not about witches. It's more a ghost story. A 1940 backwoods mother tells her son ghost stories instead of bedtime stories...and how much is real and how much made up it never told. This boy will grow up to be a "male" Elvira, hosting horror movies late night. He marries, has a daughter, and present day in the book, he is dying of cancer, is on chemo, and is committing suicide. Written from several characters point of view, this is a very good story, hard to put down. It moves from prese ...more
Feb 23, 2014 Janellyn51 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had started one of Sheri Holman's other books, the Dress Lodger, and wound up putting it down. This book is very different than that one. It's a fast read, and pretty interesting. I couldn't help but picture older Eddy as Svenghoulie, the host of the local creature feature we have on Saturday nights. It's as if Holman watched him with his rubber chicken, and goofball antics and skits. I was intrigued when I came across the book about the WPA aspect of the being about a photographer a ...more
Jul 30, 2012 sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was enthralling from the first page. Holman presents a mix of viewpoints: Eddie, a former star of a local cheesy horror show, on his deathbed; writer Tucker Hayes, who gets mixed up with witchy backwoods woman Cora, when he hits a young Eddie with his car; Eddie's daughter Wallis as a young girl experiencing her first kiss with a pyromaniac foster brother and as a cut-throat war reporter trying to escape her own demons.

So good!
Holman can tell a story. She can put you in a place with smells and sights and sounds. And she has believable, complicated characters. Some of them she understands and lets you in on what makes them do the things they do, like Sonia in this story. Some seem more resistant, like the author is still trying to figure them out. This is no criticism in my opinion.
Reviews seem divided on this book,bit of a love/hate situation. Someone asked why there wasn't more buzz about it. Here's my speculation o
Dec 15, 2015 Francoise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this one on tape, but wished that I had the book to be able to reread the fascinating similes that occur haphazardly in the middle of this tale. The story weaves back and forth between remote Appalachia of the 1940's, modern-day New York City and suburban life in the 60's and 80's. Eddie is the son of a physically impoverished, beaten woman who is rich in stories. Her idea of a bedtime story involves witches and other terrors, so it is no surprise that Eddie grows up to be, not onl ...more
This story covers three generations of the Alley family from their depression-era Appalachian home in Panther Gap to present day New York City. It's about the family stories told about the "women of their family" and about how each of these people is trapped within those stories until someone from the outside enters the picture and changes things forever by challenging everything believed to be true. There are witches and spells, and scary stories told to little children - but only at night - th ...more
This novel is about three generations of an Appalachian mountain family. The matriarch of the family is the attractive Cora Alley, a mountain witch who is rumored by the residents of Panther Gap to shed her skin at night to wander the surrounding woods. Eddie, her son, a fan of horror movies who grows up to host a local television horror movie show as Captain Casket wonders if rumors that his mother killed a man was true. Finally, there is Wallis, an anchorwoman for a NYC CNN-like news program i ...more
I'm both enjoyed and disliked this story.
The aspects I liked:
-Father/Daughter narratives
-Eddie's story about the time Tucker came to the mountain
-Wallace's story about her time with Jasper as well as her believability as a girl on the verge of young womanhood

The aspects I did not like:
-Contemporary Wallace, both her voice and story
-The lack of resolution with Tucker and Sonia. I didn't need things spelled out but I would have liked to have had them BOTH show up again in Wallace's timeline
Nancy Sebert
Sometimes books make me feel a little stupid and although I enjoyed this story, I wasn't entirely sure I "got" it when I had finished it. I probably would have benefited from a book club discussion but I always pick up the books from my husband's book club after they've read them...
This book goes back and forth in time and centers around Eddie, a kid from back woods Panther Gap, whose mother may or may not be a real witch, and an encounter with Tucker Hayes, who may or may not have eluded the dr
Charles Dee Mitchell
"Once a witch gets in, they're hard to get rid of."

This is Cora Alley of Panther Gap, a town somewhere in Appalachia, talking to Tucker Hayes. On the eve of World War II and just a few days before his induction into the army, Tucker is finishing up an assignment for the WPA, working with Sonia, his lover and maybe his fiancee, on a guidebook to the state of West Virginia. Earlier that day, Tucker has accidently hit young Eddie Alley with his car, and he and Sonia have returned him to the remote
Edith S
Jun 27, 2011 Edith S rated it liked it
I don't know how this book wound up on my Kindle. Usually I buy books for my Kindle either because it was highly recommended or I read a good review. I have downloaded a few because they were cheap, $1.99 to $3.99. I think this book falls in the cheap case. It had an interesting premise. But I feel that the author couldn't decide whether to write a book about the supernatural or just a book about people's superstitious feelings about the supernatural. Neither aspect came across strongly. I finis ...more
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Sheri Holman graduated from The College of William and Mary in 1988, mastering in Theatre. From there, she became an assistant to a literary agent. In that time, she began to write her first novel, A Stolen Tongue. It was published in 1996. She then went on to write "The Dress Lodger," which was published in 1999. Sheri Holman also wrote "Sondok, Princess of the Moon and Stars," which was publishe ...more
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“None of her spells are planned, but come to her like snatches of poetry or a doodle on a napkin.” 1 likes
“...the women are drinking and laughing inside somewhere, Wallis guesses, as manless as these men are without women.” 1 likes
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