Tackling such issues as misogyny, sexuality, and domestic abuse, Clayton deftly presents the social climate of the sheltered mining town of Cedar Hollow, WV. At the helm is Billy May Platte, reflecting on her troubled life as she lies dying in a hospice. Having learned long ago about the difficulties of being different, Billy May tries to come to terms with the violent beating she suffered at 14 owing to her romantic interest in another girl. The cast of characters who surround our protagonist are disturbingly authentic, representing the victims of intolerance and their brutish oppressors. VERDICT Billy May’s colloquial narration will draw readers in and make them feel like they are sitting vigil at her bedside as she discusses the injustices of her past. The tale she weaves brings Cedar Hollow and its mountain to life in brilliant and horrifying color.
Return to Crutcher Mountain
[W]hen the book hits its climax and the mystery of what has been going on is uncovered, Jessie finds something she never dreamed, and Clayton delivers another emotional knockout.
BigAl, BigAl's Books and Pals
In my review of Melinda Clayton's book Appalachian Justice, I compared her writing to the great Flannery O'Connor. If Flannery were alive today, she'd no doubt be reading Clayton's latest book called Entangled Thorns and singing its praises.
Shannon L. Yarbrough, Vine Voice
The Tennessee Delta Series:
Blessed Are the Wholly Broken
Tennessee Delta Series, Book 1
Clayton (Appalachian Justice) has written an emotionally charged, engrossing book that tackles life's large and often overwhelming questions. Phillip and Anna Lewinsky are struggling with heartache and grief after the death of their first child when Anna discovers that she is pregnant at age 43. Shuttling between the past and the present, Clayton probes the couple's troubled world, as Phillip looks back at their early relationship. He recalls that when Anna shortened his name in conversation that, "as silly as it may sound, particularly given all we'd suffered at that point, it saddened me, as if I'd slipped a notch in her esteem, no longer worthy of those extra letters." With another child on the way, the couple wrestles with their demons: "We didn't want to get our families' hopes up again only to have them dashed....We also didn't want to have to make that terrible phone call again, the one signifying the end of everything." Clayton writes with a raw immediacy, and the multiple narratives satisfyingly converge to create an intense and compelling atmosphere.
Appalachian Justice: Dan Poynter's Global Ebook Award Gold Medal Winner, 2013.
Erma Puckett's Moment of Indiscretion
Pushcart Prize Nominee (under a different imprint)
Nineteen-forty-six was a turning point for young Erma Puckett for three reasons: First, it was the year she became rich. Second, it was the year she fell in love. And third, it was the year she was run out of town.
Snippets from Cedar Hollow: A Series of Short Stories
This collection of short stories was first published in the charity book Cedar Hollow Anthology, which having met its goal is now out-of-print. Each of the Cedar Hollow short stories, now published under the series title Snippets from Cedar Hollow, offers a glimpse into the lives of the residents of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia, the fictional mining town featured in the Cedar Hollow Series.
A Treasure Box Full of Cedar Hollow
A Cedar Hollow Short Story: When ten-year-old Miranda Barrett stumbles across a mysterious box in the attic of the vacation cabin belonging to her family for generations, she uncovers a real-life mystery that leads her family to Vines and Roses, the only bed and breakfast within fifty miles of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia.
When retired miner Darryl Lane starts pining for the old days, Kay Langley, owner of the only diner within fifty miles of Cedar Hollow, calls upon residents of the town to lift Darryl out of his “sorrows.”
Blessed Are the Wholly Broken was a finalist
On the anniversary of her husband’s death, forty-nine-year-old Emily Holt runs away, leaving an unmade bed, an unlocked house, two college-aged sons, and an overabundance of bad memories.
Struggling to make peace with the death of a husband who’d been lost to mental illness, she vows to drive to the end of the road, which, she’s surprised to find, is just outside the tiny mining town of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia.
As Emily struggles to redefine and rediscover herself, the good folks of Cedar Hollow are more than happy to help.
On a beautiful fall evening, in the middle of a game of hide-and-seek, five-year-old Bobby Clark is kidnapped by his estranged father, a shiftless man with a history of domestic violence and drug abuse. Bobby’s twin brother Ricky watches, terrified, from his hiding place behind the bougainvillea, while mother Tabby, who also struggles with addiction, lies inebriated on the living room floor.
Bobby isn’t seen by his loved ones again until a fateful morning twenty-five years later, when video of his arrest dominates the morning news. He has been charged with the murder of his father, but before the trial can begin, he manages to escape.
As Tabby and Ricky absorb the news of Bobby’s return and subsequent escape, Tabby is convinced he’ll come home to the quiet Florida street from which he was taken so long ago. But when events begin to spiral out of control, she’s left to wonder: is a child born to be evil, or shaped to be evil? And in the end, when it’s time to make amends, does it really matter?
Appalachian Justice: A Library Journal Self-E selection.
An extraordinary story of impressive complexity, “Making Amends” is a fully absorbing read from beginning to end and showcases author Melinda Clayton as an exceptionally talented and original novelist. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that “Making Amends” is also available in a Kindle edition….
Return to Crutcher Mountain: A Library Journal Self-E selection.
Entangled Thorns: A Library Journal Self-E selection.
Shadow Days: A Library Journal Self-E selection.
A Woman Misunderstood
Tennessee Delta Series, Book 2
On a sweltering July morning in rural Tennessee, fifty-year-old Rebecca Reynolds visits the family farm, where she literally stumbles across the mutilated bodies of her parents and younger sister, a sister who had spent life in a wheelchair after a birth fraught with complications.
Rebecca’s first thought is to call 911. Her second is to find her estranged sister, Lena, who was disowned by the family years before. Her third is to wonder how long it will be before Lena is arrested for the murder of their family.
As the police gather evidence pointing to Lena, the sisters turn to attorney Brian Stone. Convinced of Lena’s innocence, he agrees to take on the case. But in a family ripped apart by dysfunction, is anyone truly innocent?
Other books by Melinda Clayton:
Starlette Jones’ Little Blessing offers a glimpse into one of the families benefiting from services offered through the Platte Lodge for Children, a respite center created on top of Crutcher Mountain in honor of Billy May Platte.
Starlette Jones' Little Blessing
A Woman Misunderstood is a suspenseful crime novel that will keep the murder mystery connoisseurs second-guessing themselves up to the end. The twin themes of psychological manipulation and emotional drama underlie this tragedy of a truly dysfunctional family.
Child of Sorrow
Tennessee Delta Series, Book 3
When fourteen-year-old foster child Johnathan Thomas Woods is suspected of murder, an old letter and a tacky billboard advertisement lead him to the office of attorney Brian Stone. Recognizing the sense of hopelessness lurking under John’s angry façade, Stone is soon convinced of his innocence. When John offers up his lawn-mowing money as payment, Stone realizes this is a case he can’t refuse.
In the face of overwhelming evidence assembled by the prosecution, Stone and his team find themselves in a race against time to save an angry boy who’s experienced more than his fair share of betrayal, a boy who more often than not doesn’t seem interested in saving himself.
Child of Sorrow is narrated from two perspectives: that of Brian and angry teen Johnathan. ... Melinda Clayton does an exceptional job of contrasting these two personas as the mystery plays out. Each character harbors a resilience, strength, and determination to face life, albeit in different ways. Each is involved in the case from a very different angle and with dissimilar life experiences. And both hold a vested interest in the outcome beyond the determination of innocence or guilt.