The Hollows – Review

Author – Daniel Church

Pages – 406

Publishing Information – November 2022, Angry Robot

The One Sentence Review

The atmosphere of the bleak, rural English winter is captured expertly here in a book with some surprising twists and turns.

The Blurb

In a lonely village in the Peak District, during the onset of a once-in-a-lifetime snow storm, Constable Ellie Cheetham finds a body. The man, a local ne’er-do-well, appears to have died in a tragic accident: he drank too much and froze to death.

But the facts don’t add up: the dead man is clutching a knife in one hand, and there’s evidence he was hiding from someone. Someone who watched him die. Stranger still, an odd mark has been drawn onto a stone beside his body.

The next victims are two families on the outskirts of town. As the storm rises and the body count grows, Ellie realises she has a terrifying problem on her hands: someone – or some thing – is killing indiscriminately, attacking in the darkness and using the storm for cover.

The killer is circling ever closer to the village. The storm’s getting worse… and the power’s just gone out.

The Full Review

One word: atmosphere.

Daniel Church has perfectly captured the atmosphere of rural England in the winter. The bleak cold and feeling of being away from the civilisation most of us are used to. Places that are idyllic and beautiful. And at times desolate and isolated. Dark, icy and remote.

Driving though the peak District fairly regularly, you do see a fair amount of abandoned stone buildings, dilapidated farm houses, bomb shelters long forgotten from the second world war, rickety barns and old equipment lying around. You certainly get a feeling of being away from it all in some respects. If you were to add creepy folklore, a criminal family and people getting killed gruesomely, it’s the perfect location for a horror – and perhaps in Hollywood this is an underused location. It is perfect for this book.

There is something really off about a notorious and suspicious family, The Harpers, living off the beaten track, and I really like how Church uses them to add to the unease here. It adds the human element and that little reminder that humanity can sometimes be just as scary as any monsters.

In this book though, it can be hard to argue that anything is worse or scarier than the monsters and they very quickly get introduced to us in all their blood splattering devilry. In fact, the pacing is almost reversed in some respects, in that things start off very fast and frantic after a short period rather than building up to the action slowly. Things take a bit of a twist near the end that I still can’t decide is a great thing or not; does it take away from the immersion a little or is it a unique bit of storytelling that makes the book stand out further? Decide for yourself!

It’s definitely unlike most things I’ve read, and there are parallels to a movie I watched a long time ago called 30 days of night where a small snow covered town is terrorised by monsters (vampires in that case) in the absence of the sun. It also kinda reminded me of Paranormal Activity in that you sort of breathe a sigh of relief when daytime comes back around and get nervous as night approaches again.

This is a really inventive, at times incredibly sinister and scary, imaginative horror that makes great use of its location. I’d watch the hell out of a TV mini series or a movie based on this. I 100% recommend reading it for yourself, but maybe not if you live in a rural area in winter!

Thankyou to Angry Robot, Caroline Lambe and Daniel Church for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my review. It was my pleasure.


3 thoughts on “The Hollows – Review

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