What’s it all about?:
She thought she’d be safe in the country, but you can’t escape your own nightmares, and Lis London dreams repeatedly that someone is trying to kill her. Lis thinks she’s being paranoid – after all who would want to murder her? She doesn’t believe in the local legends of witchcraft. She doesn’t believe that anything bad will really happen to her. You never do, do you? Not until you’re alone in the woods, after dark – and a twig snaps… Hollow Pike – where witchcraft never sleeps.
What did I think?:
This is the sixth book from Chrissi Cupboard month which I completed in June of this year. After reading James Dawson’s other excellent young adult novels, Cruel Summer and Say Her Name, I was eager to read Hollow Pike, which was his debut. I found it to be a stunning read, physically and literally speaking with beautiful cover art and images inside that fit with the theme of this novel perfectly. Our main character is a teenager called Lis London who has suffered from bullying in her previous school and when it opens, is travelling to a town called Hollow Pike, to stay with her sister for a while and attend a new school where she is desperately hoping she can fit in and escape the problems of her past. Despite escaping from her tormentors, Lis is having terrifying nightmares, where she is alone in a forest and someone is trying to hurt her. On arriving in Hollow Pike, it becomes more eerie when she recognises the forest of her nightmares in the small town. Lis also finds out that the town has a history for practising witchcraft in the past, and as she eases into her new school and is integrated into the “popular” crowd, learns of a small group that are ostracised for being a bit “freaky,” and are accused of being witches.
Our heroine hasn’t really got the character to be part of the Mean Girls Brigade however, and finds herself warming to the group on the outside, three friends called Jack, Delilah and Kitty, who accept Lis into their fold when Queen Mean Girl Laura turns on Lis for attracting the attention of Danny, who she is determined to snare for herself. In a pivotal moment in the story, tragedy strikes when some teenage pranks go badly wrong and Lis and her new friends find themselves ensnared in a murder mystery that proves very dangerous for all the teenagers concerned. Lis’s nightmares meanwhile are becoming more vivid and intensely disturbing – could they be a premonition for what is to come? And can Lis find out what exactly is going on in Hollow Pike before those nightmares become a reality?
James Dawson certainly knows how to get into the adolescent mind, and writes a terrific ghost story for young adults that is full of thrills and chills and completely unputdownable. As a debut novel, it is an accomplished piece of writing that I’m certain will be loved by teenagers the world over. It deals with a lot of difficult issues, like sexuality, the damaging effects of bullying on an individual, and the importance of friendship and support. In essence, it is a book that urges you to feel comfortable in your own skin, encouraging individuality, the power we all have to just say “no,” and assurance that we don’t have to follow the crowd like a sheep but can be our own person with our own rights and opinions. I also loved that the author explored the issue of sexuality which I feel is often looked on as a taboo subject in other young adult novels or just not recognised/mentioned. I’m very excited to see what this author does in the future as I’m sure that his talent will capture the hearts and minds of all younger readers.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):