Sunday, September 28, 2014

REVIEW: Lucky's Girl by William Holloway

Cosmic horror isn't always easy to pull off.  The stories get convoluted and writers tend to focus on insanity more and character development less.  William Holloway does it right. 

The novel Lucky's Girl is really the story of people living hopeless lives Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  The UP is one of America's poorest areas where unemployment, alcoholism and addiction run rampant.  It's a place where hope is hard to find or non-existent, and the area is ripe with potential for con-men and charlatans. 

In the dying town of Elton Township, the lives of various people collide in the misery of all that malaise. 

Lucky is the guy we all wish we could be in some way.  He's more than just charming, he's mesmerizing and can put somebody under his spell.  His father, the Reverend of the local church in Elton Township, had high hopes for his son.  In fact, some whispered he was a prophet. 

But this isn't a happy tale.  Holloway's novel isn't about happiness.  Lucky is a dark figure that nobody recognizes for what he is until it's too late. 

Kenny was Lucky's best friend until something happens that makes Kenny realize just how dark his best friend truly was and how evil were his intentions.  But Kenny was a product of Elton Township and even though he left all of that behind, twenty years later he finds himself back at his uncle's cabin with two traumatized children. 

Jerry was is fat, drunken cop that might die before he retires, or is forced into retirement because the poor township can't afford to pay his salary.  Even twenty years ago, he was a fat drunk, but he was present enough to know Lucky was evil.  And now Lucky has come back. 

Holloway does an amazing job illustrating how important hope is for a community and how the complete lack of it can be a great weapon to be used by Evil.  His characters are believable and fresh, their actions are their own and the events that unfold are original.  Most of these cosmic horror stories are the same but not this one.  This has a certain crispness to it I really appreciated. 

More to the point, I honestly felt the horror and felt bad for the characters.  It's been a while since I read a story where I cared about the people and in Lucky's Girl, I found myself empathizing with them. 

In the final events, I really understood exactly what Holloway was describing, which is very difficult to do in cosmic horror.  Holloway's writing is spot-on and exacting, making the impact of this book far more powerful and ultimately, enjoyable. 

I can see this book being nominated for a number of awards.  It really is that good.  I would say it's a must-read for horror hounds and anybody who likes that feeling you get when you turn off the lights and wonder what waits in the shadows. 

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