Hollow Pike by James Dawson

Just finished reading James Dawson’s Hollow Pike.  This is the story of Lis who at the start of the novel is moving away from her home in Wales to live with her sister Sarah in Yorkshire.  A move brought on by the need to escape the bullying which she has been subjected to at her former school and also in the hope that the bad dreams she has been experiencing will stop if her location and life change.  And, so we’re introduced to Hollow Pike which is rife with history and superstition, primarily surrounding the history of the persecution of witches in foregone eras.

As soon as Lis arrives at Hollow Pike she can’t help but feel strangely about it.   A feeling of being watched, shadows in corners, trees that appear to reach out to her and crows that follow her movements.  Also, as soon as Lis arrives her nightmares take a different turn and seem to become even worse but she’s enrolled at a new school and hoping for a fresh start.  On the first day Lis is taken in by the popular girls and becomes a reluctant member of the local mean girls clan.  She has mixed feelings, should she stay safe within the confines of this group – who seem to be feared by the rest of the school or should she befriend the school ‘strange’ clan who she feels a strong pull towards.  Eventually Lis makes the decision that she’d rather stick to her guns and make friends with people who she enjoys spending time with rather than be a lesser member of the queen bees club – a decision that will ultimately make her rather unpopular with said queen bees.

I really enjoyed this book.  It put me in mind of a number of other stories and I suppose the comparison to Scream/Heathers/Mean Girls is inevitable but for me personally I enjoyed the fun element and Lis and her friends put me more in mind of Daphne and Co from Scooby Do.  I almost expected at the end for one of the villains to come out with the ‘if it hadn’t been for these pesky kids’ line!

In terms of characters I thought there was a good mix.  Laura undoubtedly makes a nasty little character – although this didn’t make me dislike her enough to think her eventual demise was warranted and Delilah, Kitty and Jack make a cool little outcast gang.  I thought the setting was good with the creepy copse and the little village with its limited options for entertainment and run down and mottley selection of shops.  I also thought that the author did a really good job of portraying student life and putting across the bullying that affects so many students.  We see Lis eventually developing and actually, with the support of her new friends, starting to stand up for herself.

The story takes on a more horrifying note when Laura is murdered and the feel then becomes much more creepy and sinister reaching a dramatic finale.

Now, this isn’t a criticism, but, if you’re expecting a book about witchcraft and spookiness then this isn’t going to be the one for you.  It’s not really about that, it’s more about superstitions and fear of the unknown.  Okay, there’s Lis’s dreams but lets face it dreams don’t really make you a witch after all – otherwise where’s my broomstick and eye of newt?  I liked the fact that this book didn’t go all ‘cooking up strange portions and learning how to fly’.  It felt more modern with a bit of a twist and a look at people’s fears and how they get the better of them.  A little bit of intuition doesn’t after all mean you’re a raging old crone running around putting a hex on every second person you meet and cursing the general populace.

On the whole I thought this was a really good bit of escapism that briefly touches on the supernatural but only in the most subtle way.  A good debut novel that for me felt more about new beginnings.

Hollow Pike

Hollow Pike

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2 Responses to “Hollow Pike by James Dawson”

  1. jenclair

    I think it sounds interesting, and I’ll look for a copy at the library. Wales, Yorkshire, and superstitions….all appealing.

    • lynnsbooks

      I enjoyed this one – again YA but very readable. Manages to be a little bit creepy and although there’s lots of suggestion about witchcraft we don’t have any pointy hats or wands, in fact no witchcraft at all really – just lots of lore and superstition and a few dreams.
      I would recommend though.
      Lynn 😀

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