Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hell Hollow by Ronald Kelly

Book Details
Hell Hollow by Ronald Kelly
Paperback, 500 pages
2010, Cemetery Dance Publications
ISBN: 9781587671869

From out of a shadowy backwoods hollow, echoes a dark threat from the past, nearly a century lost and forgotten.

The rural town of Harmony, Tennessee possessed a disturbing secret; a secret so ancient that most of its residents were completely unaware of it. Even the last survivors of a vigilante raid long ago have filed the tragic events of that autumn night away, totally unaware of the evil that remains, dormant, but forever patient, among the tall pines and thick-leaved kudzu of a place known only as Hell Hollow.

There it would have remained, unrevealed, if not for a handful of unknowing participants. Four kids, bored for excitement during one of the hottest summers on record. A killer on the run, dodging his latest atrocity. And a rape victim on a deadly mission – scarred in both body and mind. All have a hand in bringing forth an unspeakable evil from the dark woods of Hell Hollow.

He is a skeletal figure in top hat and tails, brandishing a handful of magical cards and a patented elixir that was brewed in the very depths of Purgatory.

Hell Hollow is a thoroughly southern novel. For a yankee like me, it was like traveling to an entirely different world. The farms, the clothing, the food and the phrases are minor detailed touches that create an air of authenticity. It really makes you feel as if you are there with the characters.

The story itself is imaginative and rather thrilling at times. I enjoyed how the story spanned 90 years, bringing the grandfather into the thick of the story. The scenes with Allison, the rape victim, were some of the very best in the novel. Hell Hollow is a well balanced story, allowing neither the light nor dark moments to overwhelm the story.

For a thrilling horror novel, it doesn't showcase much that is too grotesque. Ronald Kelly's writing here avoids shock tactics and the gross out factor, allowing the reader to become emotionally invested in the characters. Things become a bit repetitive towards the end of the novel and the story seems to lose a little momentum. The focus seems to shift from the bad guy to the bonding of loved ones which I believe may alienate readers who have waited over 450 pages to get to the climax.

Overall, I really enjoyed the novel. It isn't terrifying by any means and had a few flaws, but the premise is solid and the pages flew by. I would definitely recommend Hell Hollow to anyone interested in expanding their reading into the horror genre without risking nightmares.


Ronald Kelly's website


  1. This sounds like one I would like. I'm a Yankee too, but have been a Southern transplant for 19 years in Nashville, Tennessee. I've grown accustomed to the southern way of speaking, but I'm still recognized as a Yank, even after 19 years. Since I moved here in my 20s, I guess the Yankee side stuck (which I'm still proud of, btw)! Anyway, I enjoy southern authors, especially horror and historical (Robert Hicks comes to mind). Can't wait until the Southern Festival of Books!

    Darn, did I digress from the! Sorry, Jennifer! Anyway, nice honest review. I'm going to add this one to my wishlist.