Hallowed Review

Some older readers may remember the ABC After School Specials that would air unexpectedly during a weekday when you got home. They would be quality, full-length films featuring a drama for teens or preteens dealing with any wide variety of issues. The next day at school, all the kids would talk about them. Hallowed reminds me of one of those gems, but the darkest, strangest installment to that series ever.

With The Mall, Bryant Delafosse meticulously details the novel’s setting, while with Hallowed, the characters are built in the first half to the point that you feel you know them and care for them. Their budding romance alone is seriously worth the price of the tale.

Warning: There is a serial killer on the loose…

Paul Graves rekindles an old friendship with Claudia Wicke. Claudia left town while in grade school and returned during her Junior year back in good ol’ 2004. Always a strange one, young Claudia is now a death-obsessed goth girl, yet Paul still feels drawn to her odd ways. Soon she ropes him in with her budding interests involving forensic pathology and the two investigate the murders.

One thing I enjoy about Paul, our leading man, is that he isn’t the typical geek, bad boy, nerd, misunderstood malcontent, freak or bully magnet that is so heavily featured in high school dramas nowadays. Paul is All-American as apple pie without being Captain America.  Paul listens to his folks and gets pretty good grades, yet isn’t top of the class. He is probably like most people his age and I find that refreshing.

Like The Mall, the weird gets really weird as the second half rolls around. Delafosse takes the adventure from the grim whodunit of a killer-at-large to a supernatural plot involving the fate of the world itself. Who would have thought it was all in your own backyard? I was expecting the very nature of the terror to be one thing and I got something way out of the ballpark.

The mystery of the first half, as well as the otherworldly terror of the second, are both surgically plotted. I mean, it takes a smart writer to engineer what Delafosse does with Hallowed twice-over. Another thing I found engaging about the novel is the choice of monsters which are near and dear to my heart as I too write about them. Not going to give them away, though. You’ll have to read the book for yourself.

Hallowed is quiet horror. Not internal or isolated quiet, but more like a Bradbury for the 21st century. A neighborhood mystery that increases to an epic scale as the plot unfolds. Themes of truth, action, secrecy and conspiracy permeate the pages. Look at it this way: if they ever made a movie of the book, Don Coscarelli of Phantasm fame would be perfect to direct.

NB: I just found out that Coscarelli had indeed directed two ABC After School Specials back in the ’70’s! Weird.

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