Thursday, 5 June 2008

‘Ghost Walk’ – Brian Keene

I thought that ‘Dark Hollow’ was the best thing that Brian Keene has written, to date, so I was both really excited and a little apprehensive when ‘Ghost Walk’ (Brian’s latest book and sequel to ‘Dark Hollow’) came through the door. I’m a big of Brian’s work, so I’m always excited to see what he comes up with next, but could he improve on ‘Dark Hollow’? Well, kinda…
LeHorn’s Hollow has lain empty ever since the final cataclysmic events of ‘Dark Hollow’. Rumour and legend still abound however and the stories surrounding the Hollow make it the perfect place for entrepreneur Ken Ripple to set up his ‘Ghost Walk’ attraction. The thing about legend though is that it based on fact and the evil that waits in the woods is all too real. Unless a reporter, a former Amish man and Adam Senft (the author from ‘Dark Hollow’) can rise to the challenge hordes of tourists are about to get much more than they bargained for at midnight…
As a fan, I think that Brian Keene has delivered yet again both in terms of a scary tale and also as another strong piece of the overall ‘Labyrinth’ mythos that he is building. ‘Ghost Walk’ (the book) does exactly what a ghost walk would do in real life. It draws you in slowly with a feeling that anything could happen; it then draws out the tension until you start to think that nothing could possibly and you let that breath go that you were holding. That’s when Keene strikes with a vicious mix of horror, and the supernatural, which me jump and my stomach turn at the same time. What adds poignancy to these scenes is the way that he gets into the character’s heads and lays out their deepest fears for us to see. When they met their end I felt for them all the more as I had got to know them in a way that you don’t normally get with horror fiction ‘cannon fodder’. The flip side of this is that you can spot who will die next because they’re the people who are having their fears laid out for all to see. This veers towards making things a little predictable but at the same time adds a sense of inevitability that compliments the supernatural theme and the pure evil of what lurks in LeHorn’s Hollow.
For anyone who hasn’t spotted the ‘Labyrinth’ theme yet, ‘Ghost Walk’ will tell you all you need to know and, for the long time fan, it’s fun once again to spot the links to other books. The link to ‘Ghoul’ is one to look out for and I also really liked the way Keene pokes fun at what he’s doing when the reporter scoffs at the suggestion there may be an alternate world infested with zombies.
‘Ghost Walk’ follows on from the events of ‘Dark Hollow’ but you don’t have to read the first book to get an idea of what’s happened before. Keene takes time to fill in new readers, on past events, and the only thing I’d say here is that if you’ve already read ‘Dark Hollow’ you may feel that there’s a little too much exposition. At times I just wanted to get on with the story, I already knew what had happened before. Having said that though it’s pretty cool to see an author do this kind of thing, for the sake of a complete story, when he could have just said, “go out and buy ‘Dark Hollow’ if you want to fill in the gaps…”
While ‘Ghost Walk’ doesn’t quite surpass ‘Dark Hollow’ (in my opinion) it’s a worthy successor and a ghostly read that will have you yelling, “don’t go into the woods!” at various characters. As long as Brian keeps writing horror of this standard I’ll keep reading it. Talking of which, the book also contains a preview of his next novel ‘Castaway’, a reality show with an unexpected bite…

Eight and Three Quarters out of Ten

I interviewed Brian late last year, if you haven't seen it already then have a click over Here.

I've also been going on about how great 'Dark Hollow' is, here's my Review.

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