Why is it that so many horror novels revolve around a man having to defend his town against outside forces? Why is it that this man is so often a brokendown novelist? As a Bizarro author, cliches make my ears bleed. An absence of originality is like a screwdriver to my viscera. So, why is that Dark Hollow, a novel about a down and out sexually frustrated writer confronting the supernatural in a small Pennsylvania town strikes me as so original, triumphant and fresh? Is it because I know the author and we share an editor? Is it because sometimes I like a mouthful of popcorn? Or is it something else? In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that both things are true and I think Brian Keene is a swell guy and Deadite Press, which is reprinting the novel, is a swell operation. But these have nothing to do with my affection for Dark Hollow.
Dark Hollow does something incredible with its cliche setup: it explains the cliche. Reading Dark Hollow will make you realize that it’s a damn good idea for a sexually frustrated writer to confront the supernatural in a small Pennsylvania town. It’s a book which separates cliche from archetype and folkloric trope from Earth magic. Adam, the book’s writer protagonist has a big lovable dog, a wife who can’t live down her miscarriage and a book that won’t be born. The small town he lives in is a comparatively innocent place. The people have their appetites and their dirty laundry, but it’s not particularly sordid. He lives a good life, though one weighed down by the tragedy of his wife’s miscarriage and his aforementioned sexual frustration. When he wanders into the town’s Arthur Machen/Algernon Blackwood woods, he spots a jogger he has been lusting after fellating a statue of a satyr, which comes alive at her touch.
Adam has seen the Great God Pan, knows the primal chaos that is about to descend on his town and that everything is about to change. And this conflict is what makes Dark Hollow, magical, epic and special in a sea of material that might feel familiar. It’s folksy,. well written, bearing the pedigree of Machen and Manly Wade Wellman as well as that of Stephen King and is not afraid of going into a conflict that in this day and age might seem silly or puritanical. In a simultaneous golden age of repression and sexual debauchery, man vs. Pan is a bold conflict. and the organic folk magic with which it’s played out, shows why the power of imagination is the best weapon against evil, why communities must honestly confront the poisons at their core and how we must not be arrogant in our beliefs that all the world’s frontiers have been tamed. Dark Hollow is one of the finest examples of these struggles playing out. Highly recommended. It should be in stock on Amazon soon,.so keep an eye on THIS PAGE.