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Book Review: "All Hallow’s" by Christopher Golden

3.5/5 - an atmospheric novel set on Halloween, 1984...

By Annie KapurPublished 2 months ago 4 min read
From: Amazon

“How simple things had been, once upon a time. In the era when children still played with Raggedy Ann, life had been so uncomplicated. Or at least it seemed that way. Though he knew, of course, that the past had its share of pain and ugliness.”

This is another book I came across in my Amazon Recommendations. I have seen this book pop up a lot but admittedly, I was too budy reading the British Library's Tales of the Weird to care too much about it. The issue was that it was kind of hanging around and so, with my brain for folk horror and the title of this book being relative to that, I thought I would check it out. Turns out, it has a really interesting premise and is written in short chapters that changes the third person limited perspective each time. Now, it has its advantages and disadvantages so let's take a look at exactly how well this book did what it set out to do: feed the reader horror.

Tony has just found some work after being unemployed for a long time. He's an alright human being who likes to get ready for Halloween with his daughter Chloe. However, his wife Alice seems to have lost faith in him and their marriage is a little on the rocks. Whilst I thought this story was interesting, it was a little long-winded and took away from a lot of the tension and horror that there actually was going on in the book. We also have the Sweeney family with the parents, Barb and Donnie. Whilst Donnie is a pathetic excuse for a human being, Barb is trying to hold everything together but is reaching the end of it. Yeah, not really much horror going on so far. Just saying that the whole coming-of-age story including Vanessa and Steve could have been cut out altogether as it doesn't make a difference to how the reader feels about them at all.

From: Amazon

But as they are all out for Halloween, there are a bunch of kids who simply don't look familiar at all - they are wearing old Halloween costumes like Raggedy Ann and a clown. It is highly unusual and suspect to the people of this small town that all seem to know each other. They go around begging the local kids to protect them from someone called The Cunning Man and it is clear that someone is doing some hunting. As we start to overturn every single rock, we see that not everyone in this small town is exactly who they seem to be and people's secrets will be revealed on this one night on Halloween in 1984.

I mean just check out how great this quotation sounds:

Still, something in the air had changed. The night seemed darker, as if the moonlight sifting through the branches had dimmed. The shadows had turned weird, the clearing a bit smaller, closer. This time when her skin prickled, it wasn’t from the flush that Julia made her feel, but from the way the night seemed to hold its breath.

Here is the main advantage: I liked how much layering went on with the horror aspect, especially how much like Stephen King the descriptions felt. It was super descriptive, greatly atmospheric and had some really good lines that made you just want to breathe them in. The writing is a clear advantage in this text.

Here is the main disadvantage: there were too many side stories that made it all seem a bit quick. Everything kept going back and forth from one character to another and it was a few pages here and there and then away to another character. It takes you out of the moment whichever moment you are in. I did not like the pacing of these parts, especially when you're trying to get into the story from the beginning.

All in all, it has a pretty good premise, it is on the whole well-written and has some great sections that are purely focused on building the atmosphere. This is clearly a good novel, but could have done with some editing, some lengthening in some places and some cutting down in others.


About the Creator

Annie Kapur

200K+ Reads on Vocal.

English Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

📍Birmingham, UK

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  • Andrea Corwin 2 months ago

    Thanks for another great review. Have you thought of doing them on GOOD READS?

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