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"These hills and hollows are where legends and lore thrive, alive and well. Mine is a story of being lost for a night in the vastness of the National Forest, of fearing the unknown and what may be hiding in shadows of the deepest dark. But make no mistake, it’s far from the only mystery held beneath these ancient peaks. And as much as I want to forget, I know that sometimes secrets are seeds, just waiting for the right conditions to sprout. The deeper you bury them, the stronger they grow."

When it comes to reading, there are few things better than when a book hits all of the right notes (or in this case, flavors), and BITTERSWEET IN THE HOLLOW did just that. With atmospheric writing and unexpected suspense, I didn't want to put it down once I started. Pearsall combined threads of belonging, love, and sisterhood with a mystery steeped in lore, creating an unforgettable story.

As shared in the synopsis, the James women have had unique, uncanny abilities for generations. While this is a multigenerational story, the focus in on the four sisters that comprise the youngest, and I loved how open and honest their relationship was with one another. The way that Linden's ability was described was absolutely beautiful.

"Emotions are complicated things. Sometimes a strong flavor, like anger or sadness, hides a whole host of others underneath—guilt, fear, hurt, nostalgia. Yet other times they enhance each other, like salt to caramel or coffee to chocolate, like grief bringing into sharper focus the shame of letting a friendship fade away."

BITTERSWEET IN THE HOLLOW has light magic that is easy to understand, and it's perfect for either summer or spooky season. Based upon the title of the sequel, I'm hoping that the next installment is told from Rowan's point of view. If you're not a fan of starting a series before all of the books have been released, Linden's story was wrapped up nicely and could easily be read as a standalone. Thank you, Penguin Teen, for the early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Additional quotes that I loved:
"The old grist mill that houses the Harvest Moon has creaky, wide-plank floorboards, worn smooth by generations of hard work, with cracks between them just wide enough for secrets to fall through."

"What does it mean to go missing? To become lost, to disappear. None of the tales we’re told as children are useful instruction. We don’t hike with pockets full of bread crumbs to leave a trail, and no fairy godmother will appear to point the way. Sometimes, no matter how good and righteous we are, we may never find our way home. Being lost is as existential as it is physical. The loss of your spatial orientation, an unmooring of your place in the world. The disorienting sensation that nothing is as it was before."