Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: Dark Hollow by Brian Keene

Dark Hollow (The Levi Stoltzfus Series #1)by Brian Keene

Paperback, 290 pages

Published June 2012 by Deadite Press (first published January 2006)

More than any author I can think of it is very hard to separate Brian Keene from his work. Everyone who has ever written a novel has their reflection on the pages, but Keene is such a part of his work. I read both The Rising (his first novel) and Terminal when they came out ages ago. I liked both alot but for whatever reason they didn't click with me in the sense that I felt the need to track down everything by the man.

Now that we share a publisher (in Deadite) and have hung out at a few cons, and I listen every week to his podcast, I feel I know the guy. I like Brian Keene the guy, I like Brian Keene the writer so I decided I needed to revisit his work.

I started with the short novel "The Darkness on the Edge of Town." I reviewed it here and found that to be a great tribute to Stephen King's the Mist, even surpassing that story in several ways. Next up obviously was the novel The Dark Hollow. I chose this book because of Keene's podcast the horror show. He devoted an episode to the origin of the novel and hinted before it aired that he went to really dark places. I chose to wait on listening to the podcast until I had finished the book. I suggest that route.

In many respects DH had many strikes against it for me. First off Keene tends to write in first person. I generally prefer third person for horror and often find that style distracting. DH also feels heavy with autobiographical elements. That was something I could tell just by reading it before Keene's podcast confirmed it. The third thing I normally don't like is novels about authors. I can't really complain because I have written one myself. The plot could have functioned without him being a writer, but it didn't end up hurting the novel for me.

All those things should have affected DH for me, but it didn't. I enjoyed it none the less. In fact I really enjoyed the read. Brian Keene is a grandmaster of horror, and earned it. He spent time in his speech telling us he didn't feel worthy but honestly when it comes to impact to the genre community alone he is a grandmaster. The novels are effective enough on their own. He is a grandmaster. No debate.

I am not going to say a lot about the plot because I went in cold, and it worked for me. Pow-wow Magic, haunted hollows in the woods and a marriage on the brink. Cool plot and great characters that all reflect Brian Keene’s talent and ability.

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