"But no book has captured what Appalachia is like right now better than Carter Sickels' moving and beautifully wrought novel, The Evening Hour. So up to the minute that it feels as if the novel is being written as you are reading it, the novel takes a long, hard look at the dark, wonderful heart of Appalachia and reveals it in all of its complex beauty, ugliness, joy, and sorrow. . . This is one of the best American novels of the year, and it is a major contribution to Appalachian literature."
-Silas House, Appalachian Heritage
"Absorbing… Nearly every character is an underdog, and readers can’t help but root for them, even knowing all the while that it is futile….Sickels manages to depict the region and its inhabitants vividly, but without condescension… As a backdrop to Cole’s story, Sickels weaves in subtle commentary on the political hot-button issue of mountaintop removal. . . At a time when it’s easy for outsiders who are living comfortably to speak in terms of optimism and hope, “The Evening Hour’’ doesn’t shy away from the harsh truth that, for some, there simply isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel."
-The Boston Globe (link to original article)
"How we heed our conscience in a changing world is one of the questions this book asks; where do we go to hear it when the places where it speaks to us are being destroyed? Sickels’ stunning debut novel offers an aching glimpse of how to listen."
-The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Newcomer Carter Sickels strips away all rural romance in The Evening Hour, finding a deeply sympathetic hero in Cole Freeman. . ."
-Will Boast, Outside Magazine
"People often complain that "nothing happens" in slow, internal, character pieces. It's also common to hear that plotty novels lack character development. Rare is the book that tries both. Rarer is one that succeeds. The Evening Hour, the debut novel by Carter Sickels, achieves that odd balance. It's a story with lots of drama—violence, death, lost people returning, catastrophic destruction—told quietly and calmly. In fact, it feels expertly muted—like a deep, dull pain…[Cole] is unshakably believable…[the novel] doesn't break your heart, but it makes it ache.”
-Portland Mercury (link to original article)
"It is Sickels's great compassion for his characters that distinguishes this fine first novel. A richly drawn story of West Virginians trapped between indifferent mining conglomerates and a dead-end town."
-Shelf Awareness (link to original article)
"These characters—especially the women—and the obstacles in their way and their determination to overcome those obstacles will make the reader turn the pages all the way to an ending that is every bit as surprising as it is inevitable."
-The Brooklyn Rail
"Sickels’ unromantic treatment of mountain culture, even when characters handle snakes or sing old death ballads, stands as one of the novel’s important achievements."
"In Sickels’ sparkling debut, the inhabitants of Dove Creek, West Virginia, often speak of leaving but for complicated reasons can’t or won’t. . . Sickels’ measured prose underscores the eeriness of a contradiction-riddled town plagued by boredom, sickness, and poverty in a powerful story of one man’s effort to help others when no one is able to help him."
"Sickels’s debut revolves around a cast of characters whose world is pulled out from under them. . . the novel is grounded in rich storytelling."
-Publisher's Weekly (link to original article)
"Cole's point of view is one not often encountered in contemporary fiction. First-time novelist Sickels paints [his] experience with an unflinching hand."
"A plainspoken novel, but one with intensely lyrical moments, about the devastation of the West Virginia landscape—and the devastation to the local communities—owing to mountaintop removal... Sickels has great insight into the emotional life of West Virginians, and he refreshingly presents them as fully realized characters."
"The Evening Hour is a remarkable first novel. It deals with contemporary Appalachian culture in an honest and artful way."