By Daniel Church
- The Hollows
Author: Daniel Church
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
- ISBN: 9781915202383
- Published: November 2022
- Pages: 450
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 11/11/2022
- Language: English
Humans fear the dark and we fear the cold. There is good reason for this. In our modern world we can wrap up warm in a synthetic coat and take along a torch that can be seen from space, but that was not always true. The dark used to mean the unknown. Animals or something else preying on you. The cold meant death, a lack of food and warmth. Modern people have become arrogant of the dark and the cold, but Daniel Church’s The Hollows corrects this as it is all about a remote Peak District village and the creatures that prey on the residents.
Being the Constable of a sleepy village is usually dull. All Ellie Cheetham normally must contend with is a lost hiker, local drunk or the troublesome Harper family. When one of the Harpers is found dead it seems that he got lost on the way back from the pub and froze to death, but Ellie notices a strange symbol next to his corpse. What should have been an unfortunate accident is a grim foreshadowing of the next few nights. An antient evil has woken from its slumber and wants to feed with only Ellie and a few villagers to stop it.
There is a classic feel to Hollows. It is the vein of early King, Herbert, Koontz etc. An evil taking out people, good or bad. This is what makes the horror palpable. Ellie and the other villagers are not inherently bad people. They have their flaws, some can be jealous, others rude, but not evil. Some are even leaders of the local Church, but none of this helps with the creatures. Church builds up a community, only to tear its flesh from the bone as the book progresses.
Another element that feels like classic horror is the introduction of the horror of man being as bad as any supernatural creature. The Harper family pay a key role in story. The family are known for petty crimes, but also alleged rapes and assaults that never seem to go to court. What happens with this type of family when the conventional rule of law no longer exists?
This being a creature feature, it is important that the beings are horrifying, and Church has created very unsettling creatures. They come out at night and hide in the shadows. They also use the cover of winter and snow, attacking only when the village is cut off from the rest of the world. As the story develops, we learn more about the creatures and the local history, giving the book a keen sense of folk horror too.
Hollows is a book that effectively builds the tension. The unknown becomes known and small moments of intimate horror change to action set pieces. This is defiantly a book written for the fans of horror. It has horrible moments and is not always enjoyable. It manages to end with a sense of both hope and inevitability. It has all the ingredients for someone looking for a classic horror style read.
Written on 11th November 2022 by Sam Tyler .