A deeply satisfying story: My review of Hazel Creek by Walt Larimore

Hazel Creek

Publisher: Howard Books; Original edition (March 13, 2012)


In the Hazel Creek Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains, Nathan and Callie Randolph, with their five unique daughters, wrestle to maintain their farm, forests, family, and faith against an unforgiving wilderness. An evil lumber company manager is seeking by every means possible to pilfer their land and clear-cut their virgin forest.

A cast of colorful characters, including a menacing stranger, gypsy siblings, a granny midwife, and a world-famous writer—even a flesh-and-blood Haint—collide in a gripping struggle of good and evil amid eruptions of violence and tragedy. Our heroine, fifteen-year-old Abbie Randolph, has to help save her family’s farm and raise her sisters while preserving her faith.

This important story, based on almost ten years of research and four years of living in the area, captures the speech, ways, and beliefs of these unique pioneers at a crucial and irreversible turning point in this Smoky Mountains community of the Southern Appalachians. With the march of the industrial age, especially commercial lumbering, the traditional life and ways of our southern highlanders in general, and the Randolphs in particular, were about to change forever.


Walt Larimore has written a book that will transport you back in time to an era and a place where people believed in right and wrong, marriages were forever, men treated women with respect, and family was all important. Reading this book made me ache for such a time, rather than today's society where families are splintered and nobody seems to believe in morals. Larimore has created absolutely beautiful characters, and I especially loved reading about Nathan, a man's man who loves his wife and children with tenderness, defends them from evil, stands up for what is right. The children are simply delightful, and I felt like cheering when young Corrie stood up to the bully of a teacher in front of the whole class! Their innocence and their adventuresome ways left me smiling more than once, and the characters are so true-to-life I felt an actual fondness for them, and grieved alongside them during their time of loss. The conclusion is perfect, a clash of good and evil that resolves in a wholly-satisfying way, and yet still hints at more drama to come in future books. I was truly sorry to see the story end and can't wait to find out what happens next!

Prepare to leave Hazel Creek feeling deeply satisfied, and inspired to act with courage and dignity like these characters of old. If you are looking for a highly enjoyable, historical novel, then Hazel Creek should be on your "must buy" list. I highly recommend this wonderful book and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book was provided courtesy of the publisher for the purposes of this unbiased review.


Walt LarimoreWalter L. Larimore has been called one of "America's best-known family physicians" and listed in “Distinguished Physicians of America,” “The Best Doctors in America,” and “Who’s Who in America.” Walt was awarded the 2004 Christianity Today Book Award for cowriting Going Public with Your Faith: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work. He has been a Gold Medallion Book Award finalist three times—for the Going Public book and small-group video series, as well as his book The Highly Healthy Child. He also authored the popular Bryson City Tales books and coauthored the TSI series with Paul McCusker. He lives in Monument, Colorado.