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Review: The Hookman Legacy by Hayley L. Bernard

Review: The Hookman Legacy by Hayley L. Bernard published on 1 Comment on Review: The Hookman Legacy by Hayley L. Bernard

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Black Ash Swamp has given birth to a new or perhaps very ancient legacy; a curse that has befallen upon a small town in Connecticut: The Hookman of Black Ash Swamp. A curse dating back to the ancient Indians and early pioneer explorers… The Hookman is a mythical swamp creature with a very unique power. When he hooks people, they don’t just simply die. Anyone who encounters The Hookman vanishes completely, so no trace of their life is left. Anything they’ve ever owned, anything they’ve ever written, anything they’ve ever done, disappears and no one knows they’ve ever existed. Not even their own parents… Zachary Hartman is a popular boy in the sixth grade. Even though he is a year older than Lynn, they become fast friends when he rescues her from being eaten by a huge snapping turtle. Yet Lynn is unable to save him when The Hookman emerges from the water and scratches Zachary’s arm. The wound is far more serious than it appears. Zachary keeps vanishing from sight against his will. He and Lynn are in a race against time to confront The Hookman and kill him before Zachary is gone and forgotten completely…

Remember the Hookman? The first time I ever heard a variant of this story, it was a foggy night, and my parents and I were sitting in traffic on a two lane highway. There was an accident up ahead, and it was damn hard for emergency services to get out there to clear the road. My mom decided that this was the perfect moment to tell her seven year old creepy stories. It’s one of those memories that really sticks. I’m not the only one — the Hookman has long since been an urban legend (it was even featured in the movie Urban Legend — Joshua Jackson’s character died a grisly death), and Sam and Dean of Supernatural have gone up against them.

The Hookman Legacy takes advantage of the popularity of the modern day fairy tale. It’s deceptively slow at the beginning. Bernard takes her time weaving a creepy story based on a legend most people know. The heroine is a child poised to become a teenager, thus almost ready to leave behind any odd fears of that which goes bump in the night — almost ready, but not quite. I read this in one afternoon on a rainy day, and it’s an excellent way to spend a quiet afternoon.

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Hayley Bernard lives in Philadelphia, where she writes and paints. The Hookman Legacy was published by SNM Publishing.

Review: Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter

Review: Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter published on

ofsorrowandsuch

Mistress Gideon is a witch. The locals of Edda’s Meadow, if they suspect it of her, say nary a word-Gideon has been good to them, and it’s always better to keep on her good side. Just in case.

When a foolish young shapeshifter goes against the wishes of her pack, and gets herself very publicly caught, the authorities find it impossible to deny the existence of the supernatural in their midst any longer; Gideon and her like are captured, bound for torture and a fiery end.

Should Gideon give up her sisters in return for a quick death? Or can she turn the situation to her advantage?

This is another novella from Tor.com, and yet more proof that their acquiring editors are dedicated to quality over familiarity. It seems there is more freedom in publishing targeted at an online market; they are free to look at all manner of works, and not just those that fit the formula of what the average reader says they want.

The main character in Of Sorrow and Such is in the margin between Mother and Crone. Like Hollywood, literature has long had a drought of viewpoint characters who are not nubile young teenagers. Angela Slatter was fearless in her choice to focus on a woman who is powerful and older. Mistress Gideon is mature and thoughtful as the result of many years of life, not out of any uncanny skill. Her thoughts are juxtaposed with her adopted daughter, Gilly’s, actions – Gilly is young, sought after by young men, and stubborn. In many ways, in the beginning, Gilly is the typical fantasy character prototype, and it is refreshing that the story instead focuses on Mistress Gideon.

The attention to detail is exquisite. Novellas are short enough that every word needs to move the story forward. There is often little room for meandering descriptions. Angela Slatter has the ability to write a truly lovely (or, frankly, disgusting) sentence that also is necessary to move the plot forward. For example:

“On the surface before her is a clump of dead white that, when she is not kneading it this way and that, moves of its own accord, seeming to breathe and shiver. It’s living clay, dug from the earth of certain graveyards, replete with the juices of the dead, redolent with the scent of rot.”

If that does not make you want to read this book, I have one more suggestion.

The novella takes an unexpected turn. I can’t tell you why – you have to find out for yourself – but the events unfolding are not what they seem.

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Angela Slatter specializes in dark fantasy and horror. (I’m going to rip through her backlist!)

Of Sorrow and Such is available via Amazon HERE and from other book retailers.

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