Hemlock Hollow

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Pub Date 06 Dec 2022 | Archive Date 24 Jan 2023
Mindbuck Media, Regal House Publishing

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"Past and present, love and loss intertwine in a magical mountain hollow. Holderfield’s love of place shines in his sensitive descriptions while his storytelling enthralls the reader." —Vicki Lane, author of And the Crows Took Their Eyes

Caroline McAlister, college professor and life-long skeptic, is reeling from the loss of her father and her marriage. Her once promising career has come to a standstill. When her father bequeaths the family cabin to her, it comes with a ghost who haunted her childhood. When she discovers a century-old journal in the attic, she awakens the voice of Carson Quinn. The journal reveals Carson’s love for the same hollow that enthralled Caroline growing up. A little sleuthing uncovers rumors that the kind, curious boy in the journal grew up to murder his brother. Caroline plunges into the project of exonerating Carson, only to find herself in the throes of a personal past she’s spent her life trying to avoid. Hemlock Hollow is about how we forever haunt the places we love and how they haunt us in return.

"Past and present, love and loss intertwine in a magical mountain hollow. Holderfield’s love of place shines in his sensitive descriptions while his storytelling enthralls the reader." —Vicki Lane...

Advance Praise

“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

“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, 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

“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...

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ISBN 9781646032860
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Average rating from 42 members

Featured Reviews

Wow, this book is simply wonderful!
I absolutely loved the combination of narration, it reminded me of ‘The colour purple’ in how the incredible story telling was so visual for the reader.
I got totally lost in it.
Beautifully written.
The best book I have read this year so far.

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I liked the idea behind the novel and the execution of that idea was impressive. The writing style was simple and effective and the overall flow of the story felt very smooth. I read this book in one sitting as I really wanted to get to the end to see how it was going to pan out.

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Great prose, but not really my kind of story.

Caroline finds the diary of a suspected murderer from the past, and as she reads it, she brings his voice and story to life.

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The historical aspects were very intriguing, with interesting insights into life after the civil war and the emerging politics and changes to every day life. The characters felt three dimensional and engaging. The only thing that felt off was the presence of the ghost so early in the book - the rest of the book was interesting and I enjoyed reading it, but after the first chapter I thought I was in for more of a scary ride than what was delivered. The cover art also made me feel like I was in for more of a thriller or even horror than it ended up being. I still enjoyed it and would recommend it, but it wasn't what I thought it would be.

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At first I thought this was horror because of the cover, but quickly figured out it was more historical fiction. And mystery! 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.

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“Any place that’s been loved is forever haunted by those that loved it.”

After her father’s death, Caroline inherits the abandoned family cabin in the mountains of North Carolina. During the renovations, a journal belonging to Carson Quinn, a previous inhabitant of the place, is found. Back in 1900, Carson was suspected of killing his brother Thomas. Surprisingly the young man that Caroline gets to meet during her readings doesn’t seem the same person that would kill his brother. Moved by curiosity, Caroline decides to get to the bottom of the truth.

What a wonderful and immersive read. Culley Holderfield’s writing is beautifully done. It was like I was standing right there in the mountains with Carson and Caroline, sharing their love for Hemlock Hollow and the cabin. As a history buff, I especially loved all the Carson moments.

I give this book 4.5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC. This is an honest review, and all opinions are entirely mine.

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Hemlock Hollow -

Caroline McAlister didn’t realize her father held onto the family cabin until he bequeathed it to her, and with it, the ghost who haunted her childhood. When she discovers a century-old journal in the attic, she awakens the voice of Carson Quinn.

So I really thought this was going to be more ghost story and less a voice from the past story, it was beautifully written and eloquent and a lovely story of how the past influences the future and a story of love and sacrifice but it was not the book I was expecting.

Therefore it dragged for me, I found it slow and I definitely skimmed over some pages in the second half trying to find the ghosts that never really did show up! However my experience with this book is definitely coloured by my expectations being different than what the book actually was..... There is lots of praise for Hemlock Hollow in other reviews so be sure to check those out!

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Sometimes the ghosts you’re looking for aren’t the ghosts you find. This is the case in Culley Holderfield’s novel, Hemlock Hollow. In Appalachian North Carolina, the story follows two timelines and two different, but similar, characters. During the present, Caroline is a university professor dealing with the recent death of her father and her divorce. In the cabin gifted to her in her father’s will, Caroline finds the journal of Carson Quinn, who was accused of murdering his older brother in the late 1800’s. With the ghost of her childhood haunting her and the mystery of the truth pushing her to follow a new project to preoccupy her mind, Caroline works to solve the murder of Thomas Quinn.

Throughout the book, Holderfield illustrates the importance of the physical setting in a story. The great detail of the wilderness and how it plays a role in each scene transports readers into the novel. The author paints a scene in the 1800’s and shows the similarities and differences of the same place in the 21st century. One can visualize the page as they read, and it brings the historical aspect of the story alive.

There’s a lot of the story that focuses on Carson’s journal; at times, I wanted the story to pull back to the present to give us more moments with Caroline. The journal guides readers as Quinn grows up, whereas very few scenes illustrate Caroline’s past. The story would have more parallels between the two main characters had the author included more flashbacks for Caroline as opposed to her detailing her life through exposition.

Holderfield does an excellent job at mixing the mystery and historical fiction genres, and I’m excited to see what he produces next.

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A creepy mystery set in a natural background, perfect for Tana French fans.
Thanks for the digital review copy.

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Professor Caroline McAlister, a skeptic her entire life, is still in shock after the deaths of her father and her spouse. Her formerly promising career has reached a dead end. Her childhood ghost comes with the family cabin when her father leaves it to her. She awakens Carson Quinn’s voice when she finds a century-old journal in the attic. The notebook illustrates Caroline’s childhood fascination with the hollow as well as Carson’s passion for it. A little investigation turns up stories that the good-natured, inquisitive young man in the notebook went on to kill his sibling. Caroline dives headfirst into the task of clearing Carson, only to find herself caught up in a personal past that she has spent her entire life trying to escape.

Hemlock Hollow explores how the places we love haunt us forever, as well as how they do the same for us. With his simple literary prose, Culley Holderfield eloquently captures the western woodlands and landscapes of North Carolina. His excellent writing skill spins a tale that will linger with you and have you coming back to this book’s pages time and time again. The author expertly mixes the past and present through two narrators, engrossing the reader with Caroline’s first step in her journey. Culley Holderfield has written a book that weaves together natural and human history to arrive at a more accurate impression of the south than any we read in newspapers. He does this with kindness to his characters and unwavering adherence to the complexity of southern life.

Mystery, spirits, drama, history, love, and connections abound in this book. It felt as though Carson and Caroline and I were standing there in the mountains, enjoying the cabin and Hemlock Hollow together. I enjoyed how everything was resolved in the end, but I wish I had given some of the other characters more attention! Nearly as much as I enjoyed going on the hunt with Caroline, I enjoyed learning about the flora and wildlife of the alpine wilderness. Hemlock Hollow’s magic is transmitted through the ages with such skill in writing that the setting takes on a life of its own. I heartily endorse this book!

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A ghost story, a mystery, and the tale of a woman coming to terms with her past. I enjoyed Hemlock Hollow immensely, and hope to see further novels by Culley Holderfield.

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Hemlock Hollow by Culley Holderfield

Genre: Historical Mystery
Publisher: Regal House Publishing
Release Date: December 6, 2022
Pages: 287

Thank you to @mindbuckmediabookpub and @regal_house_publishing for the #gifted copy of the book.

Happy Pub Day to this book and debut author!

I love to support authors in my home state of North Carolina. I was so excited when I was asked if I would read and review this book. I enjoy spending time in the NC Mountains. Many of the places mentioned were known to me.

I was immersed in Hemlock Hollow within the first few pages of reading. Caroline is gifted the family cabin after her father passes away. She had not visited it in years, but had fond memories of the place and decided she was going to renovate it. Hemlock Hollow was an atmospheric read, taking readers back in time through the journal of Carson Quinn. The dual timeline flowed well throughout the story. I was vested in learning who murdered Thomas and the secrets Caroline was keeping from her childhood.

If you enjoy Historical fiction and mysteries, you will not want to miss this book!

#hemlockhollow #debutauthor #pubday #newbook #ncauthor #kmoreadsnc #applachia #hickorynutgorge #hendersonvillenc #historicalfiction #mysterybook #bookstagram #appalachian #ncmountains #westernnc #booksbooksbooks #bookreview

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Very well written book. Ghosts, love, betrayal, murder and mystery all in one. Very enjoyable story reflecting on our need to belong - both to place and family.

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Two stories and voices come through in this beautifully written book. It defies categorisation, being so much more than a mystery. This book will make you think about relationships, what is important and how loss can change you. A really unexpected book.

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This debut novel has a little bit of something for everyone - mystery, history, ghosts, and even some romance.

Caroline inherited a cabin from her father. It is a cabin they visited many times when she was a child but had forgotten about it until many years later. It had become run down and invaded by vagrants, wildlife, and nature. Determined to bring the cabin back to its former glory (and maybe a little better), she hires Micah to restore the cabin and discovers the history of her family and those in this holler in the mountains. With the discovery of a journal, we are drawn into the past when ties were simpler. 

I really enjoy stories that are told with a dual timeline. This one covers the late 1800s with the story told by Carson Quinn and the present from Caroline's perspective. The story seamlessly switches between the two, and I was drawn into a different life by the Quinn family. US history is woven into the story with battles, illegal stills, and bartering for needed items. There are also detailed descriptions of various plants, trees, and animals, including Latin names for these things.

Not only was it a journey to discover her roots, but it was also one to find her true self and unmask what has been holding her back from having a successful relationship.

I had difficulty putting the book down and found myself reading it whenever I had a spare minute or two.

I look forward to seeing what this author writes next and give this book 5 paws up.

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I'm not usually a ghost/paranormal type, but this was a great read, It kept me engaged. It was creepy at the same time. I read this quickly as I wanted to just keep reading! Would recommend!

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Love is sometimes a cruel and hypnotizing mistress. Carson Quinn and Marinda fell in love at first sight. They became inseparable and a long-loving future was surely theirs.

However, Taylor (Carson’s older brother), also took a shine to Ms. Marinda! There was no question as to who she was interested in, but Taylor was never far out of the picture. Then Carson went away to college. Completing his education, he came back to Hickory Nut Gap to marry the girl he loves but discovers Taylor has taken his place with Marinda. Carson leaves his beloved Hickory Nut Gap and does not return to North Carolina for over ten years.

The tale weaves a lovely setting of Henderson County, North Carolina, and the conflict that was the “War of Northern Aggression.” Carson becomes an officer in the northern army because he and his family do not believe in secession.

This book is well written and engenders many of the wild and lovely places that are North Carolina. The description of the woods, mountains, and hollows paints a gorgeous picture of an enchanting country. Read and enjoy this tale! 4.5 stars – CE Williams

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Hemlock Hollow by author Culley Holderfield is a surprising book and a book gem. I expected a spooky thriller/mystery story, but it was more historical fiction and family tragedy. A young woman inherits her childhood home upon her father's death and now owns a derelict cabin in the mountains of North Carolina. While moving to the homestead to begin restoration and repairs of the home in which her Mother passed, she discovers a journal barely discernable and ravaged by time. Caroline has accomplished great things in her life but also great failures, and she comes to the cabin to heal from the world's disappointments. As she delves into the journal and begins investigating a decades-old murder in the area, she solves the mystery of who murdered one of her ancestors. But most of all, she finds herself and realizes the importance of home, family, love, and history. The author writes, “One thing I think I may have learned along the way is that every person has a place, or at least should have a place. A place where he belongs, where he can sit and be free of judgment.” Mr. Holderfield also writes, “Any place that’s been loved is forever haunted by those that loved it.” What a beautiful story and a moving tale of love made even more meaningful to me having a second home in this same area of North Carolina. I reside elsewhere, but in my heart, my “true” home is North Carolina for reasons I can’t explain. Culley Holderfield describes it beautifully.   #historicalfiction #NorthCarolina #Haunting #HemlockHollow #murder #mystery #thriller #literaryfiction #love #loss #morals #home #family #book #bookstagram #read #reader #HemlockHollow @netgalley @culleyholderfield @regal_house_publishing

I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thank you to NetGalley, Regal House Publishing and the author for the opportunity to read this book. Published December 6th.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Regal House Publishing for an ARC of this story.

I love a story that takes you back and forth between present and past as you slowly unravel the happenings, and that’s what this story did. Struggling with the loss of her father and her sudden inheritance of the cabin that her mother held dear, Caroline dived into journals found at the property to work out whether the previous occupier and accused murder, Carson Quinn, was in fact guilty of killing his brother.

It’s a tale of love and longing, of family and sibling rivalry, but also of grief and heartache. I loved the journal entries of Carson; learning of his relationship with his gramps, who had a solid hand in raising him. Written well with descriptions you can’t help but see in your mind’s eye.

An interesting read that kept me enthralled.

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Hemlock Hollow is an engaging story within a story. It is a beautifully written book that tells the story of a young woman searching for a resolution to a mystery. Caroline McAlister returned to Hemlock Hollow to restore the cabin that her father had given to her mother, and then to her upon his death. There she finds a mysterious box that contains a journal that takes her on a journey through the lives of those who lived in the hollow in the late 1800s. As she reads the journal she begins to explore the people in the journal, tracing their lives through historical records, graveyards, and family stories. She is determined to solve the murder instead, she finds romance, fascinating family tales, and relationships for herself. I enjoyed this book. It is full of interesting characters from both the past and the present, It has a dual plot, one from the past she is unraveling and her own set in the present, both are well told. There is a freshness about the story, the characters, and the setting in a beautiful hollow of Appalachia that readers will find appealing. Thoroughly enjoyed the book. Thanks to #NetGalley#HemlockHollow for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Hemlock Hollow
By Culley Holderfield

Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book to review!

Upon her father's death, Caroline McAlister inherits her family's vacation cabin. It has been decades since she has seen the place. The family stopped going to the Hollow after her mother passed away when Caroline was an adolescent.

Now a shell of what it once was, Caroline feels drawn to her family's special place and decides to renovate the cabin and make it her home. While contractors re-build, she begins to research the history of the cabin and the land on which it sits. As she digs deeper, the mystery grows and Caroline realizes that she is connected to Hemlock Hollow in ways she never imagined. Haunted by memories from when she was a child, she discovers who she really is and why this has always been her home.

Hemlock Hollow is a magical place where reality and fantasy merge into one.

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a really well narrated story full of beautiful description and vivid imagery. Set in the Mountains this story has a lot to offer- ghosts, love, heartache, mystery. you are sure to connect with something! my favourite element was discovering more about Carson Quinn and how he gained the reputation of murderer. His story, intertwined with the main Character Culley and is told through his journal. y only complaint is that other elements of the story and other characters weren't explored more.

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