By Steve Frech
Published on: December 6, 2019
A young man can’t escape his past as he continues to see reminders of his dead ex-girlfriend in this newly released book by Steve Frech – Dark Hollows.
Jacob Reese enjoys the quiet life, running a coffee shop and renting out his cottage in The Hollows, Vermont.
But the calm is shattered when a woman who looks eerily similar to his ex-girlfriend Laura turns up to stay in the cottage, and leaves a mysterious note in the guest book.
Now Jacob’s seeing Laura everywhere—a glimpse of her face across the street, her music box left outside his house, a gift he gave her years before hanging from the trees.
But it can’t be Laura. Because Laura’s dead.
Someone knows Jacob’s secret—what really happened the night Laura died—and they’re out for revenge…
I was really hoping to love this book, but now that I’ve finished reading it I think this may be more of a “It’s not you, it’s me” type of situation. When I first saw this book on Netgalley, my immediate sense was that it was going to be a gothic, creepy, even perhaps ghostly story. However, upon reading, I found it was more of a psychological thriller about a man who’s past comes back to haunt him. As I read the story and found that it wasn’t quite what I had originally thought, I also ran into a few parts in the book that stuck out a bit and I couldn’t never find my way back into the ‘loving it’ category. So, it really is a case of “It’s me, not you.”
Jacob is a man who runs a coffee house and rents out an guest house room on his property in the idyllic town of The Hollows. Fall is the prime season for tourists and one such tourist comes to stay at Jacob’s guest house. However, the woman leaves quite an impression on Jacob as she leaves a message that terrifies him. At the same time, Jacob’s coffee house is taking off and he is looking to expand and talking to investors.
What I liked:
- Murphy – Jacob’s dog. Pets are such a welcome addition in any book for me. In this story, the author does a good job of bringing out Murphy’s cuteness and playfulness as part of the story. Many authors might mention the pet in passing, or as part of an chore, such as feeding him, but in this case we are shown more of the true nature of man/woman’s best friend. Early on, there is a moment where Murphy clearly wants to continue playing and the author captures Murphy’s internal thought process so well that it made me smile because I know I’ve seen it this internal conversation in my own pet’s eyes.
- The town and coffee house were a nice touch. The town is quaint and you can get that overall sense of fall in the air. How the times at the coffee house were blended into the main story was nicely done too. Plus, it gets used as part of the main story in quite an unusual manner that I won’t soon be forgetting during a meeting between two individuals.
- Loved the cover. So serene yet so dark.
What didn’t work:
- Mostly what didn’t work for me was Jacob’s extreme initial reaction to the message left by the guest as well as the next guests observation. While at that point in the narrative you don’t yet know the whole story all I was thinking was how clear it was that he was being messed with in some way. There just didn’t appear to me to be enough at that moment to give Jacob a good reason to let it affect his guest house business the way he did.
Overall, I do think folks will find this an enjoyable read. Especially those who enjoy thrillers set in Vermont in the early fall part of the year.
Thanks to Netgalley and HQ Digital for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.
Rating: 3.5 stars