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Bittersweet in the Hollow

Paperback
$11.50 US
5.46"W x 8.23"H x 1.01"D   (13.9 x 20.9 x 2.6 cm) | 13 oz (380 g) | 24 per carton
On sale Oct 10, 2023 | 384 Pages | 978-0-593-69813-6
Age 12 and up | Grade 7 & Up
Reading Level: Lexile 870L
Sales rights: US, Canada, Open Mkt
Export Edition
In this beautifully dark and enthralling YA, four sisters with unusual talents investigate a mysterious disappearance in their secluded Appalachian town. For fans of House of Hollow and Wilder Girls!

In rural Caball Hollow, surrounded by the vast National Forest, the James women serve up more than fried green tomatoes at the Harvest Moon diner, where the family recipes are not the only secrets.

Like her sisters, Linden was born with an unusual ability. She can taste what others are feeling, but this so-called gift soured her relationship with the vexingly attractive Cole Spencer one fateful night a year ago . . . A night when Linden vanished into the depths of the Forest and returned with no memories of what happened, just a litany of questions—and a haze of nightmares that suggest there’s more to her story than simply getting lost.

Now, during the hottest summer on record, another girl in town is gone, and the similarities to last year’s events are striking. Except, this time the missing girl doesn’t make it home, and when her body is discovered, the scene unmistakably spells murder.

As tempers boil over, Linden enlists the help of her sisters to find what’s hiding in the forest . . . before it finds her. But as she starts digging for truth—about the Moth-Winged Man rumored to haunt the Hollow, about her bitter rift with Cole, and even about her family—she must question if some secrets are best left buried.
Chapter One

Here’s what I know for sure: A cast iron skillet must be seasoned with lard. Pickling and preserving are best done during a waning moon. And secrets buried deep never stay that way.

I plant myself in front of the box fan wedged into the window and lift the hem of my shirt so the air can move across my skin. The Harvest Moon was once a grist mill, and its thick, old limestone walls help cool the inside. But we serve breakfast and lunch six days a week, and there’s no escaping the heat once it really gets cooking.

Gran eyes me from the opposite side of the small kitchen where she’s prepping food for tomorrow night’s festival. She runs the blade of her knife between the ribs of a side of pork she was given for curing the Thompson baby of colic. Breaking through the bone, dismantling it piece by piece, her hands never pause, never falter, even with her gaze on me. She tosses strips of meat into a bowl of spicy marinade, her own secret recipe, and the bones into a roasting pan for broth. Nothing ever wasted.

My sisters and I grew up in this kitchen with its stainless steel tables, white walls, and faint scent of bleach. We’ve been rolling out biscuit dough, scrubbing salt into cast iron, and sneaking spoonfuls of strawberry moonshine jam from the time we could barely see over the counter. So I know what Gran is thinking: Standing here next to the fan could be construed as idleness, something she cannot abide, even if it’s only June and already ninety degrees in the shade.

A bead of sweat slides down the back of my neck, drawn out by the humidity that’s been hunkered down around the base of the mountains for weeks now. I once read that there’s a correlation between an increase in temperature and in brutality. That hotter summers are violent ones. I don’t know if that’s true, but with the way the air sits now, thick and heavy, everyone’s temper seems set to boil.

At the back of the kitchen, Rowan, my older sister by eleven months, lifts the metal handle of the commercial dishwasher, releasing a cloud of steam that plasters her dark hair against her pretty face. All four of us sisters have long dark hair, bright blue eyes and rosy full lips, but Rowan has the darkest and the bluest and the fullest. Yet she wears her beauty like armor to keep others from getting too close. A rose with sharpened thorns.

Her shirt lifts as she reaches up to put some glasses away on a high shelf, just enough to expose a few lines of the black ink that slithers and curls along her hip. It was Mama’s discovery of the snake tattoo that relegated Rowan to dish duty this month. And much as I’d like to avoid the dining room, I don’t envy her. It’s the hottest job in the kitchen.

Sorrel, our eldest sister, shoves through the swinging door, a tray piled high with dirty dishes on one shoulder. She rushes past me toward the dishwashing station as Rowan turns, likely unable to hear Sorrel’s approach over the rattle of the high-pressure wash cycle. They collide with a clatter, and the entire tray tips backward. Plates and glasses clang against each other, and all I can do is watch, waiting for everything to come crashing down. Yet somehow, at the last possible second, Sorrel manages to right it.

She lets out a slow breath of relief just as a single steak knife, teetering on the edge, topples over the side. It lands on its point with a sharp thunk, quivering as it sticks straight up from the floorboards.

“Knife fell,” Mama warns from her station, pausing in drawing her own serrated blade through the green skin of a tomato.

“Trouble’s comin’,” Gran finishes the old bit of folk wisdom with a glance toward the window. The skies have gone a sickly shade of green as storm clouds gather strength over the mountains.
Praise for Bittersweet in the Hollow

A Kirkus Best YA Book of 2023
An Indie Next Pick


★"This multifaceted book successfully manages to be many things: a satisfying paranormal mystery, a family narrative examining the damage of secrets kept and the ways in which silence allows violence to grow, and a paean to the immense Appalachian forest and the small communities nestled between the trees. Luscious prose and a compelling setting make the book hard to put down. . . . Complex, well-realized, and engrossing." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★"Pearsall pulls on elements of Appalachian lore around Mothman but makes the creature and its origin uniquely her own, setting up Faustian deals and fateful tragedies that build tension and surely break hearts (both of characters and readers alike). The pace is impeccable . . . [D]eliciously atmospheric . . . Mainstays of the supernatural genres are elevated by Linden’s poignant narration." —BCCB, starred review

★“The writing is tense and suspenseful with each new discovery bringing more questions. VERDICT: A compelling story as the James women struggle to deal with their own secrets, and in the process, reveal some the darkest ones in town. A first purchase.” —School Library Journal, starred review

"The Appalachian witch book of my dreams! I wanted to crawl inside Bittersweet In The Hollow and live with the James women. Haunted golden boys, deeply nuanced, magical girls, and the threat of something lurking in the woods kept me turning the page long after dark. Pearsall's debut is positively spellbinding." —Sasha Peyton Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Witch Haven

"Bittersweet in the Hollow is a story rich in tradition and lore. Let the James sisters lead you deep into a world where beauty and evil hold hands in the shadows. Summer storms darken the skies and magic and mystery swirl like fog on the mountain." —Ginny Myers Sain, New York Times bestselling author of Secrets So Deep

"Kate Pearsall's Bittersweet in the Hollow makes the most of its setting, taking a fantastical premise full of witch girls, ghosts, and an original cryptid and peppering it with enough down-to-earth folk magic to make it feel like a comforting cup of herbal tea. The details and the lyrical yet accessible writing are what set this debut apart from other small town murder mystery YA novels." NPR

"A captivating debut that blends a palpable atmosphere, visceral magic, and the depths of sisterly love to create a concoction even more enticing than the Harvest Moon’s famous tomato pie. . . . A spellbinding story rich with folklore and family." —Andrea Hannah, author of Where Darkness Blooms

"Debut author Pearsall balances paranormal thrills and the horrors of the central mystery to craft a cottage-core-infused world replete with cozy domestic enchantments, a close-knit female cast, and a captivating romance." —Publishers Weekly

“Pearsall’s authentic Appalachian setting is almost a character unto itself, and her subtle handling of the story’s magic will enthrall fans of A. R. Capetta and Melissa Albert. Thoughtfully blending mystery, thriller, and folk horror, Pearsall proves herself to be an author to watch.” Booklist
Kate Pearsall developed a love for storytelling at a young age, often spinning tales of magical worlds and exciting adventures with her sisters. When she’s not writing, she can be found willfully indulging her curiosity by disappearing into museums, exploring new places, and becoming deeply submerged into obscure topics that inevitably make their way into future work. View titles by Kate Pearsall
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About

In this beautifully dark and enthralling YA, four sisters with unusual talents investigate a mysterious disappearance in their secluded Appalachian town. For fans of House of Hollow and Wilder Girls!

In rural Caball Hollow, surrounded by the vast National Forest, the James women serve up more than fried green tomatoes at the Harvest Moon diner, where the family recipes are not the only secrets.

Like her sisters, Linden was born with an unusual ability. She can taste what others are feeling, but this so-called gift soured her relationship with the vexingly attractive Cole Spencer one fateful night a year ago . . . A night when Linden vanished into the depths of the Forest and returned with no memories of what happened, just a litany of questions—and a haze of nightmares that suggest there’s more to her story than simply getting lost.

Now, during the hottest summer on record, another girl in town is gone, and the similarities to last year’s events are striking. Except, this time the missing girl doesn’t make it home, and when her body is discovered, the scene unmistakably spells murder.

As tempers boil over, Linden enlists the help of her sisters to find what’s hiding in the forest . . . before it finds her. But as she starts digging for truth—about the Moth-Winged Man rumored to haunt the Hollow, about her bitter rift with Cole, and even about her family—she must question if some secrets are best left buried.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Here’s what I know for sure: A cast iron skillet must be seasoned with lard. Pickling and preserving are best done during a waning moon. And secrets buried deep never stay that way.

I plant myself in front of the box fan wedged into the window and lift the hem of my shirt so the air can move across my skin. The Harvest Moon was once a grist mill, and its thick, old limestone walls help cool the inside. But we serve breakfast and lunch six days a week, and there’s no escaping the heat once it really gets cooking.

Gran eyes me from the opposite side of the small kitchen where she’s prepping food for tomorrow night’s festival. She runs the blade of her knife between the ribs of a side of pork she was given for curing the Thompson baby of colic. Breaking through the bone, dismantling it piece by piece, her hands never pause, never falter, even with her gaze on me. She tosses strips of meat into a bowl of spicy marinade, her own secret recipe, and the bones into a roasting pan for broth. Nothing ever wasted.

My sisters and I grew up in this kitchen with its stainless steel tables, white walls, and faint scent of bleach. We’ve been rolling out biscuit dough, scrubbing salt into cast iron, and sneaking spoonfuls of strawberry moonshine jam from the time we could barely see over the counter. So I know what Gran is thinking: Standing here next to the fan could be construed as idleness, something she cannot abide, even if it’s only June and already ninety degrees in the shade.

A bead of sweat slides down the back of my neck, drawn out by the humidity that’s been hunkered down around the base of the mountains for weeks now. I once read that there’s a correlation between an increase in temperature and in brutality. That hotter summers are violent ones. I don’t know if that’s true, but with the way the air sits now, thick and heavy, everyone’s temper seems set to boil.

At the back of the kitchen, Rowan, my older sister by eleven months, lifts the metal handle of the commercial dishwasher, releasing a cloud of steam that plasters her dark hair against her pretty face. All four of us sisters have long dark hair, bright blue eyes and rosy full lips, but Rowan has the darkest and the bluest and the fullest. Yet she wears her beauty like armor to keep others from getting too close. A rose with sharpened thorns.

Her shirt lifts as she reaches up to put some glasses away on a high shelf, just enough to expose a few lines of the black ink that slithers and curls along her hip. It was Mama’s discovery of the snake tattoo that relegated Rowan to dish duty this month. And much as I’d like to avoid the dining room, I don’t envy her. It’s the hottest job in the kitchen.

Sorrel, our eldest sister, shoves through the swinging door, a tray piled high with dirty dishes on one shoulder. She rushes past me toward the dishwashing station as Rowan turns, likely unable to hear Sorrel’s approach over the rattle of the high-pressure wash cycle. They collide with a clatter, and the entire tray tips backward. Plates and glasses clang against each other, and all I can do is watch, waiting for everything to come crashing down. Yet somehow, at the last possible second, Sorrel manages to right it.

She lets out a slow breath of relief just as a single steak knife, teetering on the edge, topples over the side. It lands on its point with a sharp thunk, quivering as it sticks straight up from the floorboards.

“Knife fell,” Mama warns from her station, pausing in drawing her own serrated blade through the green skin of a tomato.

“Trouble’s comin’,” Gran finishes the old bit of folk wisdom with a glance toward the window. The skies have gone a sickly shade of green as storm clouds gather strength over the mountains.

Praise

Praise for Bittersweet in the Hollow

A Kirkus Best YA Book of 2023
An Indie Next Pick


★"This multifaceted book successfully manages to be many things: a satisfying paranormal mystery, a family narrative examining the damage of secrets kept and the ways in which silence allows violence to grow, and a paean to the immense Appalachian forest and the small communities nestled between the trees. Luscious prose and a compelling setting make the book hard to put down. . . . Complex, well-realized, and engrossing." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★"Pearsall pulls on elements of Appalachian lore around Mothman but makes the creature and its origin uniquely her own, setting up Faustian deals and fateful tragedies that build tension and surely break hearts (both of characters and readers alike). The pace is impeccable . . . [D]eliciously atmospheric . . . Mainstays of the supernatural genres are elevated by Linden’s poignant narration." —BCCB, starred review

★“The writing is tense and suspenseful with each new discovery bringing more questions. VERDICT: A compelling story as the James women struggle to deal with their own secrets, and in the process, reveal some the darkest ones in town. A first purchase.” —School Library Journal, starred review

"The Appalachian witch book of my dreams! I wanted to crawl inside Bittersweet In The Hollow and live with the James women. Haunted golden boys, deeply nuanced, magical girls, and the threat of something lurking in the woods kept me turning the page long after dark. Pearsall's debut is positively spellbinding." —Sasha Peyton Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Witch Haven

"Bittersweet in the Hollow is a story rich in tradition and lore. Let the James sisters lead you deep into a world where beauty and evil hold hands in the shadows. Summer storms darken the skies and magic and mystery swirl like fog on the mountain." —Ginny Myers Sain, New York Times bestselling author of Secrets So Deep

"Kate Pearsall's Bittersweet in the Hollow makes the most of its setting, taking a fantastical premise full of witch girls, ghosts, and an original cryptid and peppering it with enough down-to-earth folk magic to make it feel like a comforting cup of herbal tea. The details and the lyrical yet accessible writing are what set this debut apart from other small town murder mystery YA novels." NPR

"A captivating debut that blends a palpable atmosphere, visceral magic, and the depths of sisterly love to create a concoction even more enticing than the Harvest Moon’s famous tomato pie. . . . A spellbinding story rich with folklore and family." —Andrea Hannah, author of Where Darkness Blooms

"Debut author Pearsall balances paranormal thrills and the horrors of the central mystery to craft a cottage-core-infused world replete with cozy domestic enchantments, a close-knit female cast, and a captivating romance." —Publishers Weekly

“Pearsall’s authentic Appalachian setting is almost a character unto itself, and her subtle handling of the story’s magic will enthrall fans of A. R. Capetta and Melissa Albert. Thoughtfully blending mystery, thriller, and folk horror, Pearsall proves herself to be an author to watch.” Booklist

Author

Kate Pearsall developed a love for storytelling at a young age, often spinning tales of magical worlds and exciting adventures with her sisters. When she’s not writing, she can be found willfully indulging her curiosity by disappearing into museums, exploring new places, and becoming deeply submerged into obscure topics that inevitably make their way into future work. View titles by Kate Pearsall

Rights

Available for sale exclusive:
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•     Minor Outl.Ins.
•     North Mariana
•     Philippines
•     Puerto Rico
•     Samoa,American
•     US Virgin Is.

Available for sale non-exclusive:
•     Afghanistan
•     Aland Islands
•     Albania
•     Algeria
•     Andorra
•     Angola
•     Anguilla
•     Antarctica
•     Argentina
•     Armenia
•     Aruba
•     Austria
•     Azerbaijan
•     Bahrain
•     Belarus
•     Belgium
•     Benin
•     Bhutan
•     Bolivia
•     Bonaire, Saba
•     Bosnia Herzeg.
•     Bouvet Island
•     Brazil
•     Bulgaria
•     Burkina Faso
•     Burundi
•     Cambodia
•     Cape Verde
•     Centr.Afr.Rep.
•     Chad
•     Chile
•     China
•     Colombia
•     Comoro Is.
•     Congo
•     Cook Islands
•     Costa Rica
•     Croatia
•     Cuba
•     Curacao
•     Czech Republic
•     Dem. Rep. Congo
•     Denmark
•     Djibouti
•     Dominican Rep.
•     Ecuador
•     Egypt
•     El Salvador
•     Equatorial Gui.
•     Eritrea
•     Estonia
•     Ethiopia
•     Faroe Islands
•     Finland
•     France
•     Fren.Polynesia
•     French Guinea
•     Gabon
•     Georgia
•     Germany
•     Greece
•     Greenland
•     Guadeloupe
•     Guatemala
•     Guinea Republic
•     Guinea-Bissau
•     Haiti
•     Heard/McDon.Isl
•     Honduras
•     Hong Kong
•     Hungary
•     Iceland
•     Indonesia
•     Iran
•     Iraq
•     Israel
•     Italy
•     Ivory Coast
•     Japan
•     Kazakhstan
•     Kuwait
•     Kyrgyzstan
•     Laos
•     Latvia
•     Lebanon
•     Liberia
•     Libya
•     Liechtenstein
•     Lithuania
•     Luxembourg
•     Macau
•     Macedonia
•     Madagascar
•     Maldives
•     Mali
•     Marshall island
•     Martinique
•     Mauritania
•     Mayotte
•     Mexico
•     Micronesia
•     Moldavia
•     Monaco
•     Mongolia
•     Montenegro
•     Morocco
•     Myanmar
•     Nepal
•     Netherlands
•     New Caledonia
•     Nicaragua
•     Niger
•     Niue
•     Norfolk Island
•     North Korea
•     Norway
•     Oman
•     Palau
•     Palestinian Ter
•     Panama
•     Paraguay
•     Peru
•     Poland
•     Portugal
•     Qatar
•     Reunion Island
•     Romania
•     Russian Fed.
•     Rwanda
•     Saint Martin
•     San Marino
•     SaoTome Princip
•     Saudi Arabia
•     Senegal
•     Serbia
•     Sint Maarten
•     Slovakia
•     Slovenia
•     South Korea
•     South Sudan
•     Spain
•     St Barthelemy
•     St.Pier,Miquel.
•     Sth Terr. Franc
•     Sudan
•     Suriname
•     Svalbard
•     Sweden
•     Switzerland
•     Syria
•     Tadschikistan
•     Taiwan
•     Thailand
•     Timor-Leste
•     Togo
•     Tokelau Islands
•     Tunisia
•     Turkey
•     Turkmenistan
•     Ukraine
•     Unit.Arab Emir.
•     Uruguay
•     Uzbekistan
•     Vatican City
•     Venezuela
•     Vietnam
•     Wallis,Futuna
•     West Saharan
•     Yemen

Not available for sale:
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•     Australia
•     Bahamas
•     Bangladesh
•     Barbados
•     Belize
•     Bermuda
•     Botswana
•     Brit.Ind.Oc.Ter
•     Brit.Virgin Is.
•     Brunei
•     Cameroon
•     Canada
•     Cayman Islands
•     Christmas Islnd
•     Cocos Islands
•     Cyprus
•     Dominica
•     Falkland Islnds
•     Fiji
•     Gambia
•     Ghana
•     Gibraltar
•     Grenada
•     Guernsey
•     Guyana
•     India
•     Ireland
•     Isle of Man
•     Jamaica
•     Jersey
•     Jordan
•     Kenya
•     Kiribati
•     Lesotho
•     Malawi
•     Malaysia
•     Malta
•     Mauritius
•     Montserrat
•     Mozambique
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