Book Review: The Curse of Crow Hollow

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“That was her weapon, and one Alvaretta wielded whether she herself present or not. Her specter hung over all of Crow Holler, not just Campbell’s Mountain. If the curse did not silence them, the fear would.”

(Now is it Crow Hollow or Crow Holler? It’s interchangeable throughout the book, with Holler being used more often. Or is it something common that I’m missing?)

 Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas Nelson for allowing us access to The Curse of Crow Hollow. I originally saw this featured in Deep South Magazine’s Summer Reading List for 2015. On that list there were quite a few already I have already read but then I caught a glimpse of that cover and read this:

Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain, has made a name for herself in Crow Hollow. Many of the residents call her a witch, others believe she’s insane. They all agree that the vengeance that Alvaretta swore at her husband Stu’s death haunts them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse. Now a sickness moves through the hollow, and rumors run rampant that Stu Graves has returned for revenge. The people of Crow Hollow are left to confront the rising darkness on the mountain and the darkness that lives within themselves.

Well didn’t that just pique my interest?! I had to have it!  This book is coming out at the beginning of August, and Billy Coffey’s writing does not disappoint, so I’m sure it will make a great read by the water, on the patio, under the umbrella – just hopefully you’re not partying in the mountains or near any caves that are reported to house a witch intent on cursing you all. 😉

 The teenage kids of the more established townsfolk of Crow Hollow (reverend, mayor, store owner) have gathered together to hold a party and what is special about this one is that it is not really being held in the location where they’ve told everyone it will be held. Intended to be a more private gathering, these three girls and one boy (the mayor’s daughter, the reverend’s daughter, the constable’s daughter and the store owner’s son) gather up on the mountain, near the caves and in a spot that brings them far too close to where the “witch” Alvaretta Graves lives. Everyone in town is told to steer very, very clear of this area, and the kids throw this caution completely to the wind, ignoring all that nonsense talk. In turn, they find themselves in confrontation with the witch and receive the fright of their lives, thereby invoking the curse of Alvaretta Graves.

When the three girls return home, each becomes inflicted with a sickness that soon passes on to all the girls in the Holler. If you watch closely, you’ll see each of their inflictions is a symptom based upon some insecurity or misgiving in their personality. Mob mentality soon sets in and everyone is suspicious of the other, pointing fingers, and turning on one another. In short, all hell breaks loose in Crow Hollow. All these long held secrets, insecurities of the kids and their parents come out and the story of why Alvaretta is as she is, and how her husband died, and what the established townsfolk’s part is in his death come tumbling out.

There are a great number of suspenseful moments, but I have to say the very best thing about The Curse of Crow Hollow (Holler?) is the narrator. The old man telling you the story of the Holler will plant firmly in your mind someone straight out of a Stephen King novel. Throughout, I completely pictured Craig Wasson (King’s go-to narrator for his audiobooks) telling the story to me. That narrator, who remains forever unnamed, made the story for me. He gives you warnings, he settles you in nicely, and tells the tale in a conversational, conspiratorial tone of voice and inserts plenty of humour all along the ride. I loved this technique!

The misgivings I have with The Curse of Crow Hollow are few, but I did feel it took perhaps too long to get to the reveal and we circled around the same narrative about the many number of characters involved in this story a bit too repeatedly. Yet, Coffey’s writing is grand and provides many chills and edge-of-your-seat moments, all leading you to reflect upon the evil residing in all of us. How this plays out in a small town in Virginia, is the witch of Crow Hollow to blame? or is it the monster inside all of us? that makes for a perfectly enjoyable read.

Literary Hoarders Penny rev