Epeolatry Book Review: Old Hollow
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Title: Old Hollow
Author: Ambrose Stolliker
Publisher: Radiant Crown Publishing
Release Date: 27 February 2018
Synopsis: “Come Forth, O Dark Ones, and Avail Thee of Our Blood.”
Spring, 1865. The Southern armies are close to defeat. Union Cavalry Commander Philip Sheridan has loosed his scouts into the Virginia countryside in search of an opportunity to intercept and destroy General Robert E. Lee’s Rebel army and bring the war to an end.
One such scout is Captain Benjamin Lawson, a man haunted by the scenes of senseless slaughter he has endured from Antietam to Gettysburg. On a dark, rainy night, Lawson’s party of scouts stumbles upon a large group of Rebel cavalry. All Hell breaks loose. Only Lawson, Sergeant Jordy Lightfoot and Corporal Emil Boyd manage to escape into a thick forest.
There, Lawson discovers the young corporal has been gravely wounded. Determined not to lose another man under his command, Lawson heads for a small town called Old Hollow in the hopes of finding a doctor who can help the dying boy. What he finds there is far more terrifying than anything he’s witnessed on the battlefield. Soon, he and his men are in a fight for their lives against a twisted preacher who has struck a diabolical covenant with an ancient, unspeakable evil.
Set off just a few feet from the tree was an upside-down cross. Its light brown wood stained…
In Ambrose Stolliker’s novella, ‘Old Hollow’, we are deep in the dying days of the American Civil War, (Spring 1865), in Virginia, in the company of a small Union scouting party comprising- our haunted, tortured hero Capt. Ben Lawson, his trusty, loyal, rough neck Sgt Jordy Lightfoot and the plot’s catalyst, the injured young Corporal Emil Boyd- whose plight takes Lawson to the town of Old Hollow where the real trouble begins.
The men’s characters and histories are well evoked with salty dialogue and references to the terrible battles they’ve fought in. If you are a history fan with an interest in the Civil War, then this novella will provide an added dimension to your reading. However, it is not necessary, for a reader can enjoy it as a horror, supernatural tale of dark forces at work.
The tension builds slowly, with the soldiers’ initial reservations about the intactness of the town of Old Hollow, despite a war raging close by and a disturbing encounter with a mother and teenage daughter, the violent Tessa, which warns us that all is not well in this home. Why is the Doctor so nervous? Who is the Preacher who controls the town with a will of iron? Or does he have help from other darker forces? The answers lie in the massive, gnarly tree with the dark hole at its centre from which erupts – abominations.
There is a price to be paid, and sacrifices to be made, not everyone who arrived in Old Hollow is leaving alive.
This is a fast, entertaining, creepy read, rich in detail, which resonates with the old legends of hidden towns which survived by luring in travelers to their deaths.
My only caveat is I would have liked more development of the characters, the plot and the history of the tree. A longer novella perhaps? This tale has the legs for it.
You can buy Old Hollow on Amazon!
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Alyson lives in the UK; her fiction has been published widely in print anthologies – DeadCades, Women in Horror Annual 2, Trembling with Fear 1 &2, Coffin Bell Journal 1 and Stories from Stone and in ezines, most often on the Horror Tree site, Siren’s Call and The Casket of Fictional Delights. In May 2019 Night of the Rider, was published by Demain, in their Short Sharp Shocks! E book series and reached the amazon kindle top 10 best seller lists. Her work has been read on podcasts (eg Ladies of Horror), shortlisted in competitions and published in charity anthologies. Future work will appear in anthologies from Things in the Well, Mortal Realm and Twisted Wing Publishers.
She performs at open mics, teaches, edits and hangs out with her dog on the moor in all weathers.