Reviews – other

This page is for critical and reader response to other writing (meaning, other than my books; i.e. shorter pieces of non-fictionfiction and poetry).


“Hillhouse is a prolific writer who experiments on various genres, as you will see directly. While she writes on various issues, I have identified four themes that recur in her works.  These themes are as follows:
1. Culture and tradition
2. Family and identity
3. Environmental concerns
4. Rite of passage

Hillhouse’s pen documents the cultural tapestries of a society that is evolving and simultaneously experiencing the concomitant issues relating to change that are associated with evolution.” – Valerie Combie, presentation at the 2017 Antigua Conference, Joanne Hillhouse’s Iconic Stance on Culture and Youth in Her Works (subsequently published in The Caribbean Writer)

“I am energized as I write this recommendation on behalf of one of my distinguished former students. I am delighted that Ms. Hillhouse has so compellingly demonstrated that living and writing in the Caribbean impose no limitations of sensibility. All writers are ‘local’ and it is out of this very locatedness that they create distinctive fictions.” – Carolyn Cooper, Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies, University of the West Indies, and author of several books including Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large – 2012

“I love the imagery conjured by your prose. Just spectacular.” – reader, WordPress

…in response to performance of Ode to the Pan Man and reading from Musical Youth at the Fu Arwe Ting 2018 literary showcase – 2018:

Fu Arwe Ting – via facebook

…in response to Zombie Island in Interviewing the Caribbean 2016 (edited by Opal Palmer Adisa) – 2017:

“I enjoyed your Zombie Island piece, I liked the perspective and use of humour.” – reader, WordPress


“…this had me totally creeped out…I was running with that child through the bush in my head…” – reader, WordPress

…in response to Little Prissy Palmer in The Machinery – 2017:

“I really love this story. I think it is so moving and shows that each of just needs to be loved. Even if we are wild dogs.” – reader comment at The Machinery

…in response to The Other Daughter on Adda (a website published by the  Commonwealth Writers organization) – 2016:

“Ok seriously, if you don’t read this you do yourself an injustice.” – reader, facebook

“Your characters are always so strong, so resolute. Such a powerful short story! Thoroughly enjoyed this.” – reader, facebook


“Beautifully written story, Joanne!” – Guyanese-British writer Maggie Harris on facebook

“Really loved this short story from my talented, old school friend, Joanne C. Hillhouse. For me, a story of inequality and the weight and mistreatment of social structures. And small places… But mostly the tenacity of women! Looking forward to more.” – reader, facebook

“Love this story.” – reader, facebook

“This piece is phenomenal. As I read it I saw it and lived it. Thank you for your talent, your brilliance, your honesty. This is what happens when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to the words on the page.” – reader, facebook

“A good read… The language was so full of life and colorful; made me feel like I was in that story.” – reader, facebook

“Quite impressive!! The language is so titillating! It arouses all your senses from beginning to end. You can’t help but see, smell, taste, touch and feel every sensation as the heroine of the story experiences it.” – reader, facebook

“One word…..WOW! Okay another word…..MORE!” – reader, facebook

“That was brilliant and so unapologetically Caribbean. Loved it!” – reader, facebook

“The first few sentences were devastating!…it has whet my appetite for something (more) from you. Love it.” – Sharon Leach, Jamaican author

“Just Amazing …I felt it in my chest as I read.” – reader, facebook

“Great read!!” – reader, facebook

“Touching and powerful – love the analogy to a hurricane force five” – reader, facebook

“#captivated.” – reader, facebook

“I’ve read it and I’m having all these feelings.” – reader, facebook

…in response to a fictional article headlined ‘It was rape…’ on The Crier  – 2016:  

“This is brilliant. On point, thought provoking, tugging at different emotions … and telling a story that needs to be told.” – reader, on facebook

…in response to What’s in a Name, in BIM – 2015:

“…great characterization, good pacing; believable psychologically and socially. Good writing…” – via email

“I was entranced from the first sentence. Immensely powerful sense of character, pov, setting.” – online workshop comment

…in response to Genevieve in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings – 2014:

“…a notable short story, ‘Genevieve’, about a social worker struggling against her own demons to help a young girl abused.” – Broken Pencil

…in response to Amelia at Devil’s Bridge in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean Pepperpot1-524x800 – 2014:

“This story felt so light and read so smoothly. Hillhouse captured nuance in such a beautiful way. … It’s a layered, mysterious tale that explores Amelia’s family life.” Full review.

“I was immediately struck not only by Miss Hillhouse’s exceptional story telling skills but also by the urgency of the story’s themes and their relevance to Caribbean social discourse.  Through the story’s protagonist… Hillhouse indicts the Antiguan society in general …even as she points to the psychological damage that Amelia has suffered due to her father’s abandonment of the family. As a reader from Belize, a small Anglo-Caribbean country much like Antigua and Barbuda, I was impressed by the manner in which Hillhouse has been able to capture an essential Caribbeanness through both her themes and the use of Antiguan Creole. In fact, as a lecturer in the English Department at the University of Belize, I felt compelled to introduce my students to Hillhouse’s writings last semester. My Women in Literature class studied ‘Amelia’ and wrote some wonderful essays from a variety of critical perspectives.”  – Ivory Kelly, author and professor, Belize

‘I read “Amelia at Devil’s Bridge” by Joanne C Hillhouse and it was absolutely amazing! it had the mixture of dark and spooky but just enough that it would not give me nightmares in the end of the day. The story itself gave me goosebumps and I wanted to know more about this girl and why she went to devil’s bridge if she was only a little girl. The imagery in the short story was so breathtaking that every time i read the short story I thought of that little girl, Amelia, at devil’s bridge washed up. Miss. Hillhouse is an amazing writer. I would highly recommend her short story! I would love to read other writings of her!’ – reader, Amazon

“I thought it was really moving.” – student at LaGuardia Community College who reached out to ask me some questions

“This short story collection was exactly what I have been craving. I needed to read and connect with Caribbean narratives. The vivid images of the islands represented and the music of the varied island dialects was a real delight to read and experience.
My favourite Pepperpot stories were:
“Amelia at Devil’s Bridge” by Joanne C. Hillhouse from Antigua and Barbuda
“Mango Summer” by Janice Lynn Mather from the Bahamas
“Berry” by Kimmisha Thomas from Jamaica” – reader, Amazon (also blogged here)

“Loved your story in Peppepot. Really moved me. Still think of that poor teenager…That story stayed with me a long time.” – facebook private message (so I won’t put the person’s name without consent but it is another Caribbean writer)

“This wonderful anthology of fresh voices from the Caribbean . . . includes writers from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. The diverse textures of the stories by 13 established and new authors weave a tapestry of the islands, water, sand, ocean breeze, and rum. Vivid settings serve as backdrops for a dazzling display of personalities.” —Booklist

“The drama and humour are heightened by robust and often very inventive language. At their best, the writers use their imagery not only to illuminate the experiences of their characters but also to share specific details about their worlds. So, for example, we read in Ivory Kelly’s ‘This Thing We Call Love’ of conversations that ‘were like boil-up, with plantains and cassava and other kinds of ground food and salted meat thrown into a pot of water, in no particular order, and boiled until the pot is a steaming, bubbling, savoury cuisine’, or in Joanne C. Hillhouse’s own ‘Amelia at Devil’s Bridge’ about rocks that ‘are sharper than a coconut vendor’s cutlass’.” – Ann Morgan, A Year of Reading the World

“Pepperpot echoes not with one prescribed identity, but with a marketplace of tongues through which the authentic Caribbean might be told. …’The Whale House’, Trinidadian Sharon Millar’s story of loss, separation, and the natural splendour of maritime savagery, opens the collection with an audacious fever pulse, one that resonates on a wavelength spectrum of high and low humours. Strong contributions from Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados make the collection a regionally consistent showing in nascent talent…”  –Read the original article in Caribbean Beat.

“Love your story in Pepperpot! You’re an amazing storyteller! Glad you are working on some more…” – facebook comment (posted to my personal page so I won’t put the person’s name without consent but it is another Caribbean writer)

“Readers want consequential characters in diverse roles and authenticity of everyday life. Good writing that sets stories off with compelling plots and rewarding insights make or break any collection of short fiction, no matter how inclusive. Most stories in Pepperpot: Best New Stories From the Caribbean make it. Readers will enjoy the characters’ interesting awareness of dialect and ways the writers use their Antillean setting.  …One character [Amelia in Amelia at Devil’s Bridge] laments how completely a father can disappear on a small island. Another gets insulted for being called an up island snob. Anarchy arisen from gang-dominance makes up the daily fabric of some neighborhoods of walled-in homes.” Read More (La Bloga)

“..I also liked Amelia at Devil’s Bridge and The Monkey Trap. If you really enjoy short story collections or are interested in checkin’ out writing from a new region/area, I don’t think you’d regret perusing these stories. This was a quick read and some of the writing is quite remarkable.” Read More. (

“Pepperpot is a collection of short stories written by authors of the Caribbean. There is a mixture of everything to make an afternoon of reading exciting and fun. A few of my favorites are REVERSAL OF FORTUNES” by Kevin Baldeosingh (Trinidad & Tobago) …ALL THE SECRET THINGS NO-ONE EVER KNOWS” by Sharon Leach (Jamaica) …AMELIA” by Joanne C. Hillhouse (Antigua & Barbuda) …FATHER, FATHER” by Garfield Ellis (Jamaica) …Pepperpot is an eclectic mix of adventure, humor, the spirit world, family relationships, and other subject matters …I recommend this collection of short stories to readers who enjoy a mixture of subject matter in a single sitting.” – Read More (Ski-wee’s Book Corner)

…in response to To Market, Snapshot, in Susumba’s Book Bag: – 2014

“Your writing is so tight and immediately engaging …” – online workshop comment

…in response to With Grace (now a children’s picture book) – 2014:

“This story came ever so close to making it to the top three. With Grace combines feelings of love, hate, greed and generosity to weave a powerful narrative that is magical in spirit and human in character. Hillhouse is an accomplished writer and her elegant prose shines through in this story.” – judges report re With Grace – named honourable mention in the 2014 Desi Writers Lounge short story contest

“…a beautiful, well thought, and meaningful story.” – via email

…in response to Carnival Blues or Something Wicked (same story, different titles), published, respectively, in The Caribbean Writer and The Missing Slate – 2014:

“This is a piercing analysis of the darker side of paradise…what happens when ‘laid back debauchery, easy and available loving’ crosses a line and becomes something more violent” – The Missing Slate (on facebook where they named it their Story of the Week)

“‘Something Wicked’ was the story I kept going back to…it’s a great story, and I think it deserves as wide an audience as possible.” – The Missing Slate editor, via email, re the selection of this submission

…in response to Feather in her Ear in WomanspeakWomanspeak: a Journal of Art and Writing by Caribbean Women Volume 7 – 2013:

“…a declaration of self acceptance and love that challenges stereotypes of womanhood, beauty and Caribbbeanness in the poem ‘She Wears a Feather in Her Ear’” – Lynn Sweeting (editor), Womanspeak

…in response to The Cat has Claws in Akashic’s Monday’s are Murder online series – 2013:

Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Sunday Arts 280216 – Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Sunday Arts

“Enjoyed your story – it flowed really well. Also liked the way you wove in the sense of place.” – Bookertalk, on WordPress

“Got the shivers in spite of the heat.” – reader, on Akashic’s facebook page

“You know how I know it was really good?, I want to know what happens next.”  – reader, on facebook

… in response to Man of Her Dreams in In the Black: New African Caribbean Writing edited by Althea Prince and published by Insomnia Press (Canada) – 2012:

“This cadent collection of poetry and prose from some of Canada’s most gifted black writers is moving, and sometimes disturbing, for readers of any colour…Joanne C. Hillhouse included her fascinating story The Man of Her Dreams. It describes a politician’s assistant falling in love with him, almost unknowingly, without realizing it until the day he marries one of her best friends. The scene where she blurts everything out at the wedding microphone is quite funny. A great lesson in not hiding true feelings, especially from yourself.” – Philip K. Thompson, in Powerful Black Voices Speak to Everyone in Canada’s Herald Arts and Life.

“This is a collection of several African Canadian artists and in different styles. They are all diverse and I think it was a good selection…Among the short stories there were a few that stood out for me. The Man of Her Dreams by Joanne C. Hillhouse and Push by Althea Prince were especially great in bringing out emotions and used the language greatly to get one to picture it all.” – reader, @ goodreads

…in response to Teacher May, in Poui – 2011:

“Weird, creepy ..but not too much, thought provoking.” – reader, facebook message

“I absolutely loved your story ‘Teacher May’ in the POUI journal! I’m always looking at unconventional ways to tell a story, and I love the transitions in POV. I had to read the story twice! And will probably read it one more time tonight. The ending was so unexpected.” – Bajan writer Shakirah Bourne on facebook

…in response to the poem Ghosts Lament, at S X Salon – 2011:

“The first two lines hooked me, and the rest of it just kept pulling… fantastic.” – Trinidadian poet Danielle Boodoo Fortune on facebook

“Wonderful, crisp, highly symbolic, you have the ability to say so much in so few words. That’s what poetry is all about.” – Former Chief Librarian of Antigua and Barbuda, Dorothea Nelson on facebook

“Ghosts’ Lament,” how charged that is. What a shifting of the gears of the creative act. How well I can relate to that. How magical and how tragic. What a maker of art you are!” – Bahamian poet Obediah Michael Smith, author of Wide Sargasso Sea and 62 Other Poems, on facebook

‎”‘Shadows slant in the setting sun,
as someone beats a pan;
a skanking Marley jam.’

Beautiful” – Jamaican born writer Geoffrey Philp, author of Dub Wise , on facebook

…in response to Country Club Kids in the Caribbean Writer – 2010:

“The short story is fantastic. I became Rosada as I read. It is like that quiet voice took me over and I journeyed effortlessly with her to the end with that ‘kiss’ that might have a big impact on her life. It almost feels like it needs a follow up story. I think you are very good at seeing life through the eyes of adolescence. The voice you use is mesmerizing and you really draw the reader in. Once again, the story is not particularly Antiguan. It is a universal story of a child coming of age, facing and dealing with the complexities we call growing up. You are also good at showing relationships. I am thinking of the child and her grandmother. People show love in so many odd ways. They do not hug and squeeze you but they do show love.” – Antiguan born writer Althea Romeo Mark, author of If Only the Dust Would settle

…in response to How to Make Cassava Bread and Other Musings on Culture – 2010-ish:

“Absolutely wonderful and informative. I love it!” – reader @ Antigua Stories

…in response to After Glow published 2009 in Tongues of the Ocean (subsequently published in So the Nailhead Bend, So the Story End):

“How poetic your prose is…It is intricately made. It is so well woven.” – Bahamian poet Obediah Michael Smith, author of Discovery Daze-72 Poems @ facebook

“Joanne Hillhouse’s ‘After Glow’ and Juan Rulfo’s ‘Luvina’ are other examples of prose which depict strong memorable imagery.” – Antiguan born poet Althea Romeo Mark, author of If Only the Dust Would Settle @ Caribbean Literary Salon

“The writing is so seductive that I came to realize that it really mattered not to me what happened to and with the protagonists. I was just happy so long as you continued to draw me into the centre of this woman and the man she is missing; and the son who is her first love…and for as long as she decided to reveal things to me.” – Antiguan poet Althea Prince, author of Loving This Man @ Tongues of the Ocean

“Beautifully written and though it works well as a standalone it would make a wonderful novel, the characters have great depth. I’ve been trying to learn more about Antiguan life for something I’ve written and I haven’t found anything that feels as emotionally genuine as this.” – reader @ Tongues of the Ocean

“I love the flow of this piece. I was drawn in and wanted to read more.” – Antiguan writer Floree Williams, author of Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses @ Tongues of the Ocean

“This story poetically paints a picture of a slice of Antigua’s life that remains indellibly in the readers’ mind. The central character comes to life in such an unforgetable way that we take her away with us.” – Antiguan born writer Althea Romeo Mark, author of If Only the Dust Would Settle @ Tongues of the Ocean

…in response to Friday Night Fish Fry in Sea Breeze – 2008:

“…an absolutely beautiful piece of prose. The characters are so patiently and vividly and sympathetically wrought.” – Austin Smith is an author, lecturer, and former Stanford Stegner Fellow

“The imagery is so vivid in this story.” – reader @ Facebook

…in response to Prospero’s Education, Da’s Calypso, and The Arrival in Calabash – 2008:

“Congrats on making it into Calabash and the poems are beautifully written.” – reader @ Myspace

If you’ve read my book, please consider posting a review to amazon if you haven’t already done so. It makes a big difference. Thanks!

See links to other review pages, here.

See links to other articles/interviews related to my books or writing, here.

See other books by Joanne C. Hillhouse, here.