From the moment I finished reading ‘City of the Dead’ I knew that Brian Keene was going to join the list of authors for whom I will always stop whatever I’m reading when they release a new book. In every one of his books; Keene has pushed the fear and horror to new levels, left the reader in suspense and then racked things up another notch when least expected. It’s not often that I read a book so intense that I have to remember to breathe, Keene has written a handful already and shows no signs of slowing down (a good thing for anyone who’s a fan of horror). An Advance Review Copy of his latest book, ‘Dark Hollow’, came through the door a couple of days ago and it seemed like just the kind of thing to be reading on Halloween…
Something very strange is happening in the hometown of novelist Adam Senft. There is a hint of piping music on the wind and strange fires have been spotted deep in the forest at night. When morning comes, another woman has vanished. A chance encounter, whilst walking his dog, leads Adam into the forest and face to face with a nightmare from pre-history. Somehow, an ancient god has been summoned to the woods outside Adam’s town. And it’s hungry…
‘Dark Hollow’ won’t actually hit the bookshelves until next February so I have to try and be careful not to give too much away. This is a real shame as I am so excited about this book that I just want to tell everyone what happens! Suffice it to say that Keene manages to pack six hundred pages of suspense and terror into a book that’s only just over three hundred pages in length using language that is economic yet captivating at the same time.
There were moments in this book where I actually jumped when reading certain passages. All the old clichés applied, I kept nervously looking over one shoulder and I think the hairs on the back of my neck stood up at one point! As with his other works Keene does not pull any punches and leaves everything open to view in great detail. There are two big fights that left me gasping, by the end, because of the blunt visceral language that he uses (rather like Shaun Hutson but Keene actually shocks rather than ‘setting out to shock’). At the same time though, Keene displays a more gentle tone when showing the reader the camaraderie between friends and the love between a man and his dog. This highlights the supernatural element of the tale but by grounding the plot in real life Keene also shows the reader that the so-called ‘mundane realities’ we face every day can actually be more terrifying than the supernatural.
As a long-standing fan, I particularly enjoyed how Keene’s ‘Labyrinth mythos’ is beginning to take centre stage more and more. ‘Dark Hollow’ is a stand-alone book but it also ties in with everything else that Keene has written, I can’t wait to see where the next book (‘Ghost Walk’) takes us.
Brian Keene mixes humanity’s fear of the dark with it’s fear of what the real world can throw up and creates a heady brew of horror that will stay in my mind for a while to come. Give ‘Dark Hollow’ a go and see what I mean.
Nine out of Ten