Author: James Dawson (rrp £8.99; Indigo, Orion; OUT NOW)

Verdict: There’s been a lot of talk about Hollow Pike; does it live up to the hype?  Yes it does.

Review: Lis London has moved to the historic, and rather eerie village of Hollow Pike. She’s determined to make a new start, and that means leading a normal school life and actually making friends.   As Lis comes to terms with Fulton High’s social pecking order, things seem to go well, she’s even get’s in with the popular crowd.

But this happiness isn’t set to last. Lis is plagued with night terrors and horrific visions of death naturally preventing her from sleep but combining with managing to invoke the wrath of Queen Bee, Laura, leads to life in Hollow Pike taking a downward spiral.    Lis’ only solace comes from the school’s so called Freaks ‘n’ Geeks.   Yet, Lis and her friends can only take so much; they come up with a plan which will see Laura get a taste of her own medicine.  But sometimes pranks can go too far…they can even be fatal

On the surface Hollow Pike is a High School ‘whodunnit’ with a healthy dose of the supernatural.  This certainly isn’t a new concept; Pretty Little Liars, Mean Girls and The Craft all come to mind with this book.   The novel could be in danger of being the fawning British sibling – trying too hard to be American cool.  However, Dawson soon finds his stride, writing a novel with it’s own identity and a story which succeeds in thoroughly creeping out the reader and sucking them into an unnerving mystery.

I think the story’s ultimate strength comes from Dawson’s ability to intuitively recapture the anxieties of being a teenager.  We’re not talking bad skin, or knickers tucked into pants.  He drags up the harsh realities of having all those hormones packed into one small space.  Bullying – and perhaps crucially the more sinister and psychological effects of girl cruelty, is not shied from here.   In Lis we find a character with whom it’s impossible not to empathise or at least sympathise.

The supernatural mystery which pads the story, of course, makes this a more enjoyable read.  Dawson has to be congratulated, however, on creating a novel which isn’t one of just superficial scares and twists, but goes some way into exposing, and actually reminding us older readers, that sometimes life’s horrors come from the places that are considered most safe.

OH, and it’s a ruddy fantastic cover!



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