cover image Witches on the Road Tonight

Witches on the Road Tonight

Sheri Holman, Atlantic Monthly, $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1943-8

Holman (The Dress Lodger) investigates a dynasty of fear, mysticism, guilt, and love, beginning in Depression-era Appalachia through to contemporary Manhattan, in her uneven but heartbreaking latest. In 1940, Eddie Alley is a shy boy living in rural Virginia with his mother, Cora, who is dogged by rumors of witchcraft. A visit from a writer and photographer from the WPA opens Eddie's eyes to the possibilities outside his tiny town, starting him on the path to becoming Captain Casket, a cartoonish TV horror movie presenter. But beneath Captain Casket's makeup and kitsch lurk secrets and tortures waiting to burst out. Holman dodges back and forth over a 70-year period, checking in on Eddie, Cora, Eddie's daughter Wallis, and homeless teenager Jasper, whom Eddie takes in and acts as a reluctant lynchpin for a tortuous familial would-be love triangle. Though the story flags in the middle section, it does recover in time to map out the devastating consequences of sin and circumstance that were forged in the hills of Appalachia and tumbled down through the generations. (Mar.)