I have always been a fan of the horror genre. After spending some years reading more science fiction and fantasy, I decided to go back to my roots. I picked Emilie J. Howard’s first book of the Cold Hollow Mysteries. The book left me with mixed feelings. But I can say that it’s great to be back in the genre! Please note that there will be spoilers in this review. I need them to explain my rating. If you don’t want the spoilers: it’s four stars.
Cold Hollow is a town with the weirdest of inhabitants. Angus Barner and his family move to the town for his job. His wife Sophia opens a bakery in town and becomes a beloved part of the small community. The town keeper, Nazar, is a creepy man who has a dark secret. Cold Hollow also has a dark secret. And the Barner family are about to find out.
Myrna Bradbury helps out in the bakery. She becomes Sophia’s best friend. But Angus learns the great secret of the town. It’s a government project to rehabilitate parolees. After Nazar decides to dispose of the Barner family, Myrna gets to keep the bakery. She sets in motion a series of events and takes care of the greatest abuse Cold Hollow knows: Nazar. Together with most of the other inhabitants she ends his tyranny.
This book was full of weird characters. The normal ones were Angus and Sophia Barner. I’m guessing that most characters behave in their way because they used to be criminals locked in a prison. So I can live with that. But then there’s these three.
- Layla, the oldest child and daughter of the Barners, is a strange kid. She’s kind and sweet and is a real wiseacre. But for a girl of her age… I just didn’t feel it was right. She didn’t ask the questions I thought she would ask. And she didn’t have a best friend. Don’t girls of her age have a best friend?
- Liam, the youngest offspring and sole survivor of the Barner family massacre. For a boy who loses his family at his age, he almost shows no signs of mourning. And I think that is unusual. And weird.
- The police officers who investigate the deaths of the Barner family and Nazar are way, way too easy with Myrna and the other town inhabitants. Really, I don’t know whether they are sloppy police officers or just bad characters.
But hey, it’s easy to be a critic. I loved Sophia and Tom. They’re great!
My Two Cents
I really, really liked this book. When I was halfway through, I feared the story was going the wrong way. But then the author amazed me. The middle twist is brilliant. The fate of the Barner family is extremely well written and deserves applause.
So I loved the book. But I don’t love it like I loved The Fireman for instance. And that’s for some nitpicking reasons. I would have loved an ending where all the inhabitants of the village were put back into prison. Then the government could start a new project just like this one with a new Nazar. That would have been nice.
I loved this book. Like I said, if it were my own I might have changed some things. But in general, it was great. Therefore, I give the book a 4-star rating. If you love horror stories, this one is great for you! Don’t believe me, go read it for yourself!