Saturday, August 15, 2015

Review: "The Curse of Crow Hollow" by Bill Coffey

Small town friends Scarlett, Cordelia, Hays, and Naomi ditch their own party to have a private camping trip up by the town's old mines -- an area that has been fenced off mad locked up since before they were born. Superstition, rumor, and small town gossip were enough to keep most people away from the mines and from Alvaretta, whom most in the town called a witch and swore there were demons up in the mines to boot.
The narrator is a friendly southern voice, a resident of Crow Hollow, detailing the madness that took over the town to an out-of-towner. The tale begins with this teenage camping trip that ends up leading the friends to the witch's house where she promptly curses them and they barely escape alive after glimpsing some living thing that Alvaretta is desperately trying to keep hidden. 

The friends return to town, hurry to church, and desperately try to act as though nothing has happened.  Part way through the service though, the three girls are seized by fits and each develop alarming symptoms. Scarlett loses her ability to speak, Naomi has constant uncontrollable spasms, and Cordelia's face droops and is unresponsive to any muscle movement. 

With doctors stumped, the friends have no choice but to come clean about the witch's curse. Soon after, all of the other young girls in the town develop symptoms mimicking those of the original three. The town begins to fall apart as blame, rumor, and suspicion threaten to destroy the small town community. Long-held secrets come to light and questions of faith and demons, innocence and guilt, ravage the town. 

It is a dark and gripping tale that starts off at full rush with the friends getting cursed, but then slows down a lot as reader is introduced to the members of the town, setting up for the interconnected role they all play in the town's impending downfall. The final chapters speed back up to breakneck pace, packed with action and answers to the many puzzles introduced.

There's a lot of characters to keep straight and I had a little trouble remembering which kid went with which parents at first. All in all it was definitely worth reading if you're looking for something scary and mysterious, but at over 400 pages with so much build up in the middle, it could've been a little shorter. The book also includes discussion questions at the end, which would be fitting for a YA book club.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Book Look for this review.  The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

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