If you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise. Author Adam Senft certainly gets more than he’d banked on when out one morning walking with his dog in the woodlands near to his house.
As he travels off of the well beaten path, in a manner almost guided by a mysterious force of nature, he comes upon a statue of a satyr brought to life by the interactions of a local girl, herself out jogging. Fleeing from the strange scene that unfolds, a continuation of weirdness pushes him deeper into a journey with darkest conclusions.
Adam can’t believe what he’s seen, and after a chat with his local buddies soon discovers there’s a lot more to the local area than he had imagined. He himself had a bad experience in the woods in his youth when out courting, and it soon becomes apparent that an area known as LeHorn’s Hollow may have something to do with the evil forces at play.
What is it with the mysterious pan music that seems to trigger the most base of instincts in strangers? And, are the trees also moving of their own accord?
Having been jump started in a manner probably best not dealt with here, the other-worldly creature embarks on a sex-fuelled rampage, targeting several local women, setting its sights on several figures close to home, including Adam’s own wife Tara. Bad juju has been unleashed, but following a little investigation it seems that it may be a case of history repeating itself, at least just a little.
Hints and clues allude to the origination of the creature, and the group soon discover that they’re up against a most ancient and powerful opponent. More women, and men, starting going missing, and soon the count of those missing begins to add up.
Given their background, experience and knowledge in all of this Adam and his companions are moved to action to stop things escalating out of all control, and events take a tumbling ride through the forests and foliage of this dark area as the group face down the threat to their women folk.
Dark Hollow moves with a fluid pace and doesn’t get boring. Its horror lies more in the shock of the underlying and unpleasant potential threat of the bad guy than in sheer in your face terror, and in doing so Keene entertains consistently where lesser authors get lost. A steady lore-based thread weaves in hints of natural deities gone awry in the human world and bulks out what is a generally entertaining horror novel.
A quick caveat: given the amount of sexual-slash-hybrid-bestial action going on here this is definitely one for the more mature audience. Otherwise, Keene writes likable and human characters, in normal lives with their respective ups and downs, which make you root for them even more when bad things befall them, especially important in this book given the nature of the beastly goings on.