I absolutely love receiving books in exchange for a review – despite what they do to the amount of memory on my iPad or the shelving space on my bookshelves – but wow, it’s easy to start falling behind… So this time, even though it was an ebook, I still went with the cover that jumped out. And this time around, that belonged to The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey. The rest will just have to be patient.
Here’s a quick description to give you an idea of just what the novel is about:
Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she’s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Alvaretta swore at her husband’s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse. Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves.
The one problem that I have with novel pretty much hit me over the head as soon as I started reading. The narrator. The voice of a hillbilly from the hollow who’s your insider for the story he’s about to tell. Okay, there’s a reason behind the use of that narrator that becomes clear at the end, but the hickness of the language is a little off-putting until you get used to it.
I also had a little bit of an issue keeping the characters straight as there are quite a few people living in the small town of Crow Hollow that are a part of the story line. And sometimes they’re referred to by first time, sometimes by last. In that way it reminded me of Russian literature, where you have to put in some work remembering everyone and just who they are. Outside of those two issues, it was a fun read. And it was character-driven, despite all of the action surrounding secrets and revenge and misunderstandings and relationships formed over years together in a tiny mountain area. And, of course, the possibility of a witch and dealings with the devil.
As I went through the book, I kept thinking that this was a pretty good book – a solid 3 out of 5 (still working on a better rating system to use…). But then, the farther I made it through, I realized that I was reading when I should be writing, reading when I should have been sleeping, and generally reading another chapter or two, or just another few pages before setting it down. And that’s a sign that it was better than average. It’s the connection that writers want to develop with their readers. It’s what I’m hoping to have with the people who read mine. Even whoever reads my rough draft I hope misses out on hours of sleep…
Until then, it’s time to flip through the list to find the next cover that sucks me in. Sure, you can’t judge a book by its cover. But you can choose a book to judge by its cover. That’s completely fair…