After losing her hand in a tragic accident, Rachel is plagued by vivid nightmares of a hollow tree, and a hand reaching from it, begging her for help.
Terrified that she is going mad, Rachel experiences phantom sensations of leaves, trees, and finally a hand that grasps hers and pulls a young woman into Rachel’s world. She has no idea of who she is, but Rachel can’t help but think of the local legend of Oak Mary, the corpse of a woman found hidden in a hollow tree, and who was never identified.
Three myths have grown up around the body; was she a spy, a prostitute or a murdered gypsy? Rachel is desperate to learn the truth, but darker forces are at work. For a rule has been broken, and Mary is in a world where she doesn’t belong…
|Publisher||Paperback||400||Titan Books||Horror||March 13th, 2018|
*Thank you, Titan Books for providing me a review copy of the book. This has not impacted my review.*
Let’s start with the most important- I really really really really really really really really – takes a breath– really really really really really really liked this book. Honestly? I took a chance on the book simply for the striking cover, and damn it, I wanted to find out who danced with Mary Oak before she died. I was not entirely prepared for the fullness this book presented to me.
The Hollow Tree is quite a dark read- it’s about solving the pasts’ grim mystery in a web of myths. Myths which essentially have come to life from the other side to fight for being named the truth. You see, the dark side has its own agenda and what living humans have created around this female body found in a trunk of a tree in word alone has gathered momentum and its own life. Sounds pretty darned ominous now, doesn’t it?
The good news for anyone that shies away from the ‘horror’ label is that it’s not one of those in your face types of horror. It’s more like a ‘let’s tell a really long, creepy story around the campfire’ kind of stories and my, does it have substance. I really like what the author did here with the body that was found in the tree and how the three myths played into the plot. It’s also really well written and delivered so that there is just the right amount of description and pace to keep the story hurtling along as it guides you deeper into the maze of questions, danger and possible endings…
Simply brilliant and seriously captivating!
The book starts off with introducing us to Rachel who tragically loses her hand in an accident and then starts having nightmares and delusions. For quite a while I was left on the edge of suspicion- is this stuff REALLY happening to her, or is she actually just having a serious ‘trip’ due to the meds she’s on following her accident. It does get quite ‘leave your logic of the real world behind the door’ pretty quickly but it only solidifies the fact that we are dealing with the otherworldly here.
I really do not want to give anything away here in terms of details to the story but as the blurb mentions- Rachel pulls things into the real world… from that other place… yikes!
After the first few pages I wasn’t sure I was going to like Rachel very much but throughout the book, she shows me who she really is. She’s determined and brave and so bloody sensible when it comes to pointing fingers of blame, especially when it comes to the accident she had. I mean, she doesn’t point the blame untowardly at all and I so respected her for that. Her relationship with her husband was thoroughly ‘couple goals’ and he was a really understanding chap. I was at some stages expecting him to turn out to be a real bastard, especially after Rachel’s accident, because authors are tricksters… But that was not the case and I was pleasantly surprised. So, in terms of characters- the whole cast of them- total win!
The three myths (the murdered gypsy; spy; prostitute) that have been weaved into this horror story get fully explained- their past lives, their personalities, their deaths. I felt for each of these women because essentially I was on a journey with all three during a time of war and I wasn’t sure I was prepared to find which one of these myths was the truth. Or how any of these myths was going to play out on Rachel’s quest for answers.
But a good book doesn’t leave you hanging in a puddle of questions and a labyrinth of confusion, and gives you something else to get excited about. And such it was, that Brodgen threw a right curveball into the mix to help tie off any questions, any answers to the question ‘Why?’. It was freaking delicious and as such the ending was super satisfying. As far as books go, this is a solid ‘pick it up and read it in as few sittings as you can’.
I just want to further make the point before I close off this review that I came to like Rachel a whole lot- what a show of personality, what a demonstration of a human with their heart in the right place. And ultimately, what a brave woman to answer to the darkness that calls out to her for help.
Even though this is an otherworldly horror novel (which only scares the lightweights! 😛 ), it’s also thoroughly entertaining and gripping! It’s multiple stories and lives within one story and one life. It’s solving a mystery, fighting with myths (literally) and as it reaches the final turn before the conclusion, it delivers the extra moment of ‘I see! That all makes sense now!’