Paperback, 275 pages, S7.99
(Review based on advanced reading copy)
Review by Sheila Merritt
LeHorn’s Hollow has a bad reputation. Violent events and speculations about supernatural spookiness plague the area. What better place to set up a Halloween haunted attraction? This is the springboard for Brian Keene’s latest foray into horror. From that premise, Keene sets up a battle against an evil entity, fought by an unlikely trio: Newspaper reporter Maria Nasr, a practitioner of the occult named Levi Stoltzfus, and madman Adam Senft. Together, this triumvirate takes on a terror that threatens not only those attending the Halloween event, but mankind itself.
This epic war waged on a small piece of turf yields a very high body count. The entity literally thrives on fear; it makes the life it consumes ever so much tastier. Prior to consumption of a person or animal, Nodens, the name of this evil incarnate, causes its victims to face what frightens them most. For some, it is their guilt personified by a ghost or living person. Others, however, succumb to phobias: snakes, spiders, tumors. Nodens can really turn the screws.
When confronted with this calculatingly creepy and voracious adversary, Maria and Adam let Levi take charge. Levi has proven to Maria that he possesses powerful psychic and arcane abilities. Adam had witnessed otherworldly creatures engaged in vile violent activities. He responded with his some violence of his own; a commitment to a mental institution ensued. His interaction with Levi is bound by a shared history of horror. When the three of them enter the landscape of death and destruction, they form a less than holy alliance. Each has fears, foibles, and secrets.
In addition to this fine characterization, Brian Keene writes excellent atmosphere: “Darkness flowed across the forest floor like water and wound between the trees like a snake. Everything it touched disappeared, encased in an impenetrable, obsidian shroud.”
Ghost Walk is a welcome return to LeHorn’s Hollow, which was the setting of Keene’s novel Dark Hollow. A two time recipient of The Bram Stoker Award, and the only writer to be nominated for four Stoker Awards in one year, Brian Keene is keeping up the good work.