An enthralling, cozy tale set in an era when folklore reigned over science.


A historical novel spins a yarn of a skeptical doctor and a trio of folk healers who team up to try to save a Georgia town from a deadly disease.

North Georgia, 1822. Savannah doctor Aubrey Waycross has been invited to the remote town of Lawrenceville to provide the locals with proper medical care—and, in his mind, to dispel some of their backward superstitions, such as a ghost panther stalking the hills. But the citizens of Lawrenceville already know where to get their healing. A few miles outside of town in Hope Hollow, three sisters—Rebecca, Sarah, and Effie Winter—are renowned for their cures for everything from sneezes to rheumatism. Some regard the sisters as witches—Pastor Boatwright insists the panther is their familiar—but Waycross assumes they are merely frauds. Charlatans, of course, can still be dangerous. “What if this supposed panther…put its teeth into human flesh?” worries Waycross. “What if, in their benightedness, the afflicted went to the Winter sisters for treatment? These so-called witches might spread the contagion with some superstition about pouring out blood at a crossroads.” Yet Waycross must admit that the Winters have a knack for unexplained healings, and there does seem to be some sort of big cat in the woods. The physician can’t help but become increasingly fascinated by the sisters, whose ways are as old as the mountains. As Waycross contends with his own ether addiction, Lawrenceville is in danger of a rabies outbreak, and the doctor alone may not be enough to save it. As the pastor preaches his own brand of unscientific cures, Waycross will have to rely on these mysterious “colleagues” if he wants to save the people of Lawrenceville from a terrible fate. Westover’s (The Old Weird South, 2012, etc.) prose is wonderfully detailed, capturing the lushness and grit of his superstition-ruled setting: “The odor was not pleasant. It smelled of too many herbs all at once, basil and rosemary mixed with an overpowering lavender, as well as the spiciness of rhododendron, the sharp tang of pine, and the musk of something decocted from a toadstool.” Readers will be intrigued right from the book’s atmospheric opening, when Waycross’ reluctant carriage driver warns him of all the dangers that haunt Lawrenceville. The story is ultimately less of a gothic fantasy than a slow-moving, slightly magical realist novel that takes as its subject the denizens of a colorful little town. The time and place—antebellum rural Georgia, equally distant from the Revolutionary and Civil wars—feel refreshingly unexplored. There are moments when the story dawdles, but the author has created such an attractive world to inhabit that its conservative pace is not much cause for concern. Westover manages to stick the landing, bringing his doctor’s unlikely investigation into miracles to a wise and affecting conclusion. Solid writing and strong characters buoy this examination of a captivating moment in American history when old beliefs encountered the new.

An enthralling, cozy tale set in an era when folklore reigned over science.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9849748-9-4

Page Count: 322

Publisher: QW Publishers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?