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Witches on the Road Tonight

3.20  ·  Rating details ·  994 ratings  ·  208 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. ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published January 28th 2011)
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Average rating 3.20  · 
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Jessica Woodbury
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
What a fantastic find! While I'm categorizing it as Horror for purposes of my Horror Readathon, this book is a lot of things: Historical fiction, fairy tale, family saga, etc. And while a book that jumps through time and plotline as much as this one does is risky, it really paid off.

The throughline of the book is Eddie Alley, brought up in Appalachia, and more importantly, from a family of witches. As a child an accident brings a writer and photographer find themselves at the Alley's small and
...more
Kat Warren
Apr 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Lyndz
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
...more
Virginia
Jun 01, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Adam
May 21, 2012 rated it it was ok

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
...more
Lauren
Apr 01, 2011 added it
Shelves: one-hot-mess
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.
...more
Elaine
Jan 15, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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
...more
Jamie
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Teresa Calhoun
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Corinna
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Alanahurley
Oct 19, 2011 rated it liked it
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
...more
Terence
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Terence by: NYRB review
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
...more
Lori
Nov 16, 2011 rated it liked it
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
...more
Virginia
Jul 15, 2011 rated it liked 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
Bondama
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
...more
Marcie Crandall
Mar 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Kristin
Mar 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Annie O'Dell
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I enjoyed the writing style more than the story itself.
Jenny
Dec 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Overall - 4.3/5
Story - 4/5
Writing - 4.5/5
Character - 4.5/5
Memorability - 4/5
Enjoyment - 4.5/5
Would I read again? Yes

I loved this strange tale of a family of witches. The narrative is slightly confusing as it jumps around from the 40s to the 80s to current day, but I thought each and every character was so well rounded and the mountain setting was really visceral. Sheri Holman's writing is beautiful and I'm surprised I've not heard of her before. I definitely want to pick up more of her work. If
...more
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
...more
Mir
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a fan of any of these characters and as a result not particularly interested in hearing of the messed up lives they create through bad communication, selfishness and destructive behavior.

Also, I found the male narrator's voice pretty annoying- like he was constantly running out of breath and talking painfully slow. It was somewhat appropriate for his characters, I'll admit, but ultimately was a distraction for me. Also difficult to listen to in the car, as he frequently drops his voice lower
...more
karen
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one is very well-written, but simultaneously suspenseful and not very plot-y. I never got 100% sucked in, but I highlighted a ton of passages & that’s not terribly common for me.

Sometimes you read a book by a man & it’s painfully obvious he has no idea what it’s actually like to be a woman. He probably doesn’t even have a tiny bit of interest in what that’s like. This book is one of the flipsides of that, specifically a book you just know was written by a woman. Even if she’s describing so
...more
Chris Qualls
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved it and told her so. She's a great author and respond to readers. ...more
Lora King
Apr 18, 2011 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
sarah
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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!
...more
Brenda
Jul 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Abrams
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sheri Holman’s fourth novel, Witches on the Road Tonight, begins at the end of Eddie Alley’s life as the has-been host of a campy TV horror show writes what appears to be a suicide letter to his grown daughter Wallis. In this opening paragraph of Holman’s book, we find a good illustration of how the author of The Dress Lodger and The Mammoth Cheese uses detail to bring her sentences to life:

Of all the props I saved, only the coffin remains. Packed in boxes or tossed in the closet were the skulls
...more
Rebecca Moll
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
The black and blue cover, its slightly creepy and suggestive depiction is not only a portent for this novel, but one for the reader's journey as well.
Witches on the Road Tonight commands your attention at your own expense. It is the dead animal on the side of the road, the car crash you slowly pass, the black and white images of war in the book you want, but can't put down.
It is the horror movie you try not to watch, your fingers parting for the tiniest of a glimpse. It is the fleeting mirror im
...more
Sarah Langan
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very ambitious and mostly successful story. It gets five stars for its genre-bending, its wise, adult tackling of sexuality and identity, its settings-- all far-flung and utterly believable. The opening, in which a couple working for the WPA strike a child in the Appalachians with their car, it pretty great, as are all the Appalachian scenes. In the story, we follow the couple and young Eddie, who grows up to become a campy horror personality. The story is told in hindsight by Eddie's daughter ...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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