What could be a better read during the month of October than The Curse of Crow Hollow? Although, I will admit that it was by pure accident that I cracked open the cover to page one during the month of Halloween. But honestly, no matter what time of year you find yourself in, Billy Coffey’s novel is always a great pick. Here’s why.
When a group of teenagers decides to celebrate Scarlett’s birthday at the mines, no one would have guessed the consequences of their actions. But the mines aren’t just a forsaken wasteland. They’re also the home of the witch, Alvaretta Graves. And when the kids cross paths with the old woman, things go from bad to worse. Because the curse doesn’t stop with them–it follows them back to town.
The Curse of Crow Hollow is a gripping tale of mystery and suspense. You spend just over 400 pages discovering the town’s history and its secrets. As you progress through the story, you realize that the curse didn’t come simply because of what happened to Scarlett and her friends. Some secrets are buried while others are far from forgotten. You as the reader are instantly pulled into the yarn as everything is told from an omniscient narrator’s point of view. The reader is addressed directly, placing you into your own scene. You find yourself in Crow Hollow, stumbling across an unknown person who begins telling you the entire story. Coffey did an excellent job at writing in a colloquial dialect, reminding me of classics such as Huckleberry Finn. While it feels odd at first, you soon find yourself enjoying the irregular speech. I will point out that it is not as complicated as some of Mark Twain’s dialogue to grasp. But it does blend very well with the plot considering the entire scene is set in the Virginian mountains.
It was a fine plan the two of them had worked out by the time Angela reached Crow Holler. And like all good plans, this one fell apart as soon as it met up with reality. Because people were scared, friend, because word of what the witch had done had gotten out.
(The Curse of Crow Hollow, p. 110)
Earlier I mentioned that The Curse of Crow Hollow is just over 400 pages. For adult fiction, the length is actually on the shorter side; however, because of the pacing of the story being told, it did drag in some parts. Sometimes I did wonder how much longer it would take before I got to read about the character’s next objective rather than the steps taken in between. Overall, this wasn’t the case though and I really did enjoy the telling of the tale.
This is where things can get tricky. The Curse of Crow Hollow is full of characters–there is really no one protagonist, rather a group of people. Many of which are connected by friendship or blood. Each person has certain family members and backstories that you will have to keep straight in your head. Occasionally, you will forget who one of the characters is and will be flipping back to previous pages just to jog your memory. The backstories and histories of some of these people are crucial to fully grasping some of the current/future events that take place. Yes, this can be confusing, but honestly I loved it.
I don’t know what goes through the mind of a young person, friend; they are wholly different creatures from ourselves. It’s that peculiar sense of invincibility that blossoms in a heart not yet tested, and an arrogance to believe the world they frolic in has already been tamed.
(The Curse of Crow Hollow, p. 10)
The diversity of characters was refreshing. And Coffey’s portrayal of each individual was spot-on if not sometimes *cringe* relatable. There were no “perfect” characters. You know who I am referring to. The characters we so often see described in fiction as containing an ungodly amount of beauty and all the hottest side characters fawn and fight for their affection. This story doesn’t do that. And that adds a realism to everything that happens. Scarlett has a secret that only her friends know about. John David is suffering the repercussions of war. And Angela spends too much time obsessing over gossip and not enough time focusing on her daughter. As the author goes through each character’s lives, he never glosses over their faults. He brings out each one and allows us as the reader to examine it.
“Fear’s the world’s way of reminding you of what you have…Less you got to lose, less scared you have to get.”
(The Curse of Crow Hollow, p. 154)
And while some of the characters do change for the better at the end, others don’t.
So what’s the verdict? I have nothing bad to say about this book. The pacing was a little slow sometimes and the amount of information the readers have to retain on each character is overbearing at times, but The Curse of Crow Hollow is an amazing book. From the first page to the last, I was hooked. If you’re looking for your next book to pick up or enjoy a good mystery, you should definitely give this one a read.