Something wicked this way comes...
She thought she'd be safe in the country, but you can't escape your own nightmares, and Lis London dreams repeatedly that someone is trying to kill her.
Lis thinks she's being paranoid - after all who would want to murder her? She doesn't believe in the local legends of witchcraft. She doesn't believe that anything bad will really happen to her. You never do, do you?
Not until you're alone in the woods, after dark - and a twig snaps...
Hollow Pike - where witchcraft never sleeps.
My verdict: A fabulous debut that had me looking over my shoulder while reading. Strongly recommended.
I was really excited about this one, having first seen the cover in the summer - and what a cover! Witchiness, forest, birds - it's all there and all are important in the story. As I stated above, this was an excellent read which was more subtle in its witchiness than I expected, and all to the good. Sometimes the books you're most excited for can disappoint, but not so here. This debut demonstrates skill and control, above all: control of plot, character, setting and tension.
This is, primarily, a chiller which had me doing that horror film thing where you wait for the jump moment. James Dawson, you owe me for a shoulder massage to get rid of the tension you put there!
Lis is an engaging character who gains our sympathy immediately, as we meet her in the throes of one of her nightmares. The sense that she knows what's coming, the dread she feels and yet her complete inability to prevent it are palpable and guarantee you'll want to read on.
We soon also learn that she is moving to the country to get away from bullies. As the new girl, there are also attempts to bully her in her new setting. The teen relationships are a real strength of this book, portrayed realistically, as is their speech. It's clear that Dawson is familiar with kids this age (as a former teacher). I loved the 'weird kids', Kitty and Jack, and their attitude towards the 'in crowd'. The contemporary setting and believable characters intensify the tension in this perfectly-paced tale filled with misdirection.
As well as contemporary teen culture, Dawson also knows his folklore. The witchy elements to the story are well-researched and avoid any overblown or romanticised ideas, making certain that the novel retains the maximum creep factor. This is not a paranormal romance, even though it features both the paranormal and some romance - it's darker than that and the romance is not the main plotline.
Overall, I'd readily recommend this to lovers of chillers and witchy tales.