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Daniel I Russell - Writer of Horror Fiction

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review: Hollow House by Greg Chapman

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This book stinks.

No, no. Not like that. The novel opens with the residents of a normal, quiet suburban street noticing a grotesque stench that appears to be seeping from the one creepy abandoned house on the block. I believe in the real world that this is quite a common occurrence, which adds some weight to the proceedings. Where Chapman takes us though is a tad more supernatural than finding out why someone's post is filling up unanswered...

Look at the sticker on the cover. Bram Stoker nominee for first novel, and they don't just hand those out willy nilly. This particular book lipped by me, as I read all of Chapman's works and remembered buying this, but it somehow didn't find its way onto my Kindle until a considerable amount of time later. In that time, the book had been awarded the prestigious finalist place and the glowing reviews had started to accrue, so I was quite keen to jump into Hollow House when it finally did appear.

This was a breath of fresh air, despite the stink of rot that seemed to permeate from my Kindle. The books I've read and reviewed lately, while all fantastic, have been set in a single character POV (I'm still counting Sloman's Broken on the Inside here as each story was in a single POV). Chapman brings in a host of characters early, which allows for some head-hopping, which was a nice change. It reminded me of King, in for example, The Regulators, in that we're presented with a common suburban street and those that live there, like we peek through the curtains at the lives being played out inside each home. However, as I reached around the 60% mark, most of these characters were still running around and without the presence of a big bad antagonist figure at this point (kudos for the man to be confident to keep you guessing for this long!) I felt the book lost a little focus. The easiest remedy would have been to streamline the book by cutting a few of the lesser characters, but this would have been detrimental to the novel and the cast Chapman has created. Instead, I would have preferred the opposite, for the book to truly go down the King route and perhaps be twice as long, have us spend MORE time with each character. But the book does pull its strings together in the last act with a satisfying finale and an ending that I felt was reminiscent of the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie...a bit.

Rest assured, you're going to see the description and the reviews and think the words 'haunted house' over and over, but this is very far from the case. True, the Kemper house sits like a rotten tooth, presiding over the rest of the street, but you won't find any clinking of chains, footsteps in the dead of night, or any other haunted house cliches. Chapman brings more mystery to the subgenre, a smattering of action, and even a hint of cosmic horror...but nothing too heavy as to dominate the plot. The book doesn't place all its eggs in a particular idea or approach, and is all the better for it, emerging as a horror all-rounder. Unlike some of the books I read, I would have no problem recommending this one to everyone.

And I think that's a good point to end this review on.

Four out of five air fresheners. A distinctive smell emerges from a distinctive book. Click on the cover above for purchase!

Have you read Hollow House? Share your thought in the comments.

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Posted by Daniel I. Russell :: 7:13 am :: 0 comments

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