Appalachian Justice (Cedar Hollow Series, Book 1)

General Fiction

By Melinda Clayton

Publisher : Thomas-Jacob Publishing, LLC

ABOUT Melinda Clayton

Melinda Clayton
I'm a wife, mother, psychotherapist, freelance writer, and novelist.  I like to explore human behaviors in my writing, and to delve into why and how we make the decisions we make.



Billy May Platte is a half Irish, half Cherokee Appalachian woman who learned the hard way that 1940s West Virginia was no place to be gay. As Billy May explains, "We was sheltered in them hills. We didn't know much of nothin' about life outside of them mountains. I did not know the word lesbian; to us, gay meant havin' fun and queer meant somethin' strange."

In 1945, when Billy May was fourteen years old and orphaned, three local boys witnessed an incident in which Billy May's sexuality was called into question. Determined to teach her a lesson she would never forget, they orchestrated a brutal attack that changed the dynamics of the tiny coal mining village of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia forever. Everyone, from Gerald Smith, the elderly owner of Smith's General Store, to Sue Ann Leary, the spoiled daughter of the town's only doctor, to Corinne Pruitt, Billy May's childhood friend, was affected by the event in ways they could never have anticipated.

Thirty years after the brutal attack, living in solitude on top of Crutcher Mountain, Billy May discovers the hideout of a young girl - a girl who just happens to be the daughter of one of the boys who attacked Billy May so long ago. No one knows better than Billy May the telltale signs of abuse, and she must quickly make a decision. Will she withdraw into the solitude in which she has lived since the horrific attack, or will she risk everything to save the girl from a similar fate? Billy May's choices will once again change not only her own future, but the future of Cedar Hollow as well, and certainly the future of the young girl.

Billy May tells us her story in her own words, as she lays dying in a hospice in Huntington, West Virginia in the spring of 2010. "From the top of my mountain, I seen that girl runnin'," she remembers, "and I understood even then that my decisions might very well be the death of me."

Disclosure: I requested a review copy of this book by the author after reading a short blurb on it.

Once in a while a reader gets to be one of the first to discover a new writer. I just finished Appalachian Justice by Melinda Clayton, and I'm still reeling from the experience. For me a good novel is all about the characters and Clayton has created a main character I will never forget.

Set in the hills of West Virginia in a small mining town, Appalachian Justice brings to life characters who are as real as anyone I've ever known. I feel like I know and love Billy May the main character, a woman of such depth that I'm sad I have to leave her life now that the book is finished.

Sure a good story is important, and Clayton knows how to keep the tension taunt, but what's a great story without characters you can love and cheer for, and characters you hate with equal passion? Using her work as a psychotherapist, Clayton delves into the lives of characters until they are ready to spring from the pages of her novel fully formed to walk and talk in the real world.

I feel as though I've just discovered Jodi Picoult, or John Grisham, two of my favorite authors for character development. I'm going to recommend this book to all my reading friends, and I'm sure they'll thank me for it. The only way this book could be better is if it had a readers guide at the end, because this is the sort of book you could discuss endlessly because of the both the storyline and the wonderful characters.

I'll be looking forward to the next book by Melinda Clayton, a rising star in the literary world.   Robin Landry, Top 500 Reviewer, Vine Voice