Reviews

“In this sophisticated and nuanced narrative, past and present collide to shed light on a century-old murder. With its evocative sense of place and carefully-timed revelations, reading Hemlock Hollow feels akin to opening a treasure chest.”

Heather Bell Adams, Author of Maranatha Road and The Good Luck Stone

“This is the most fascinating novel I have read all year and is perfect for a bookclub discussion. I can’t recommend it highly enough as a page-turner that will stay with and haunt the reader.”

Nancy Pierce, The Southern Bookseller Review

“This book has ghosts, mystery, a journal from the 1800s, history, and a spot of romance – what more could I want from a book, right? How about top notch writing, unforgettable characters, and superb storytelling? Yep, Hemlock Hollow has it all and then some. This book is a definite MUST-READ!!”

A Bookish Way of Life

“A definite winner. In Culley Holderfield’s Hemlock Hollow, Caroline McAlister…praises personal history, finally wearing it like a charm, researching and recalling characters she cannot let go.”

Shelby Stephenson, poet laureate of North Carolina from 2015-2018 and author of More and Shelby’s Lady: The Hog Poems.


“Past and present, love and loss intertwine in a magical mountain hollow. Holderfield’s love of place shines in his sensitive descriptions while his story-telling enthralls the reader.”

Vicki Lane, author of And the Crows Took Their Eyes


 “The setting and characters come alive with Holderfield’s prose. This is how historical fiction should be written. The story is complex and has depth. The characters are rich. Add all that together and this book is an instant classic.”

Kristen Gilligan, bookseller and former National Book Award judge

“When it comes to this astonishing book by Culley Holderfield, I got lucky. A good six and a half years before the rest of the world was invited into Hemlock Hollow, Culley Holderfield invited me to edit an early draft. As with all great writers who know the power of revision, Culley has transformed this book from the promising draft I saw into the rich mixture of past and present, love and grief, history and psychology, that you now have the opportunity to read.

Told firsthand by Caroline McAllister in the present day, and Carson Quinn in the late 1800s, Hemlock Hollow is both a murder mystery and a love letter to a secluded Appalachian hollow in North Carolina. An old rusted box and a boy’s journal give us insight into the small community where Caroline finds herself years after Carson’s death. Caroline, who cannot believe that someone who could love this hollow as she does could be a murderer, uses her investigative skills to widen the search for the truth buried in history. At the same time that she is working to resurrect Carson’s reputation, she is trying to resurrect her family cabin in Hemlock Hollow, discovering in the process that she may be able to resurrect herself as well, by letting go of a brittle sense of isolation and letting in the people who care about her.

With generosity to his characters and unflinching fidelity to the complexities of southern life, Culley Holderfield has created a book that weaves together natural and human history to arrive at a truer sense of the south than any we read in newspapers or history books.”

Mimi Herman, Kennedy Center Teaching Fellow, co-founder of Writeaways, and author of The Kudzu Queen

“Culley Holderfield’s complex and stirring depiction of Appalachia reflects the beating heart of the south. Mark Twain stated, ‘The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter- ’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.’ Holderfield knows the difference. His masterful prose weaves a story that will stick with you and have you returning to wander the pages of this novel over and over again. No words are wasted yet he creates a rich environment, characters to care about (Carson is my personal favorite) and a story that is at once fresh and legend at the same time.”

Allie Coker, author of The Last Resort and What I Learned at Davidson