Witches on the Road Tonight

Sheri Holman
Witches on the Road Tonight Cover

Witches on the Road Tonight


"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 cabin where he lives with his mother. As Eddie recuperates from his mild injuries, Tucker will show him a rare print of Thomas Edison's film Frankenstein. Later that night, Cora will peel off her skin and ride Tucker relentlessly through the hills. The next night he knows he will be unable to resist another fantastic journey. Eddie's life will be permanently changed by his encounter with the flickering image of the Edison film. Tucker will disappear into the woods.

Holman's novel jumps in time from the 1940's to the present day, to an episode in the 1980's and a brief foray to 1967. Except for the richness of the language and the beguiling intrusions of the supernatural, very little ties together here. My sense of disappointment grew the more I read. I sensed I would not be satisfied nor ultimately intrigued by how things turn out. With the three generations involved it is hard to even know whose story this is or what is really at stake. The incidents of the 1940's sections would have made for an excellent tale.