If the movie The VVitch had a torrid fling with Brian Keene’s novel Dark Hollow, it would probably be something like this … which is, in every possible way, a good thing. Keene himself has mentioned the world needs more satyr stories. I agree, and here’s a winner to add to the list!
Obadiah Woolrich is a good, godly, Puritan farmer in New England. Yet, despite their hard work and piety, he and his dutiful wife and daughter find their lives a constant struggle of poverty, misfortune, blighted crops, and sickly livestock. To add salt to Obadiah’s wounded pride, he finds himself envious of the prosperity and bitter of the generosity of his neighbors.
Particularly his nearest neighbor, Symon Horne, who really seems to have it all: a lush beauty of a wife, a flock of healthy children, bountiful harvests, plentiful game, goods to sell, a large and comfortable house, the works. When yet another problem arises, Obadiah forces himself to seek Horne’s advice, and yet again his neighbor proves only too glad to share his wisdom.
However, that wisdom comes in the form of a prayer, and not a prayer to any proper Christian god. It invokes a more primal nature deity, whose influence quickly takes hold. With livestock recovering, crops thriving, wild plants and berries growing in sudden unseasonable abundance, Obadiah has to wonder what he’s gotten his family into.
Then there’s the resurgence of passion between him and his wife … and whatever their daughter’s been getting up to on her daily forays out into the woods … and what the forces now at work upon their farm might do when Obadiah tries to go back on their deal.
A terrific blending of history, mythology, folklore, and humanity, steeped in lusty sex … yeah, this is a good one! Highly recommended.
This superb, simple parable is a real gem. Tremendously dark, gripping and vivid, it tells an age old tale of good versus evil, seduction by sin and God’s wrath; the story is unabashedly biblical in context and a cautionary tale in its purest form – and, with strength in its simplicity, it is outstanding.
Set in the always ominous early days of the New World – specifically late-1600s Massachusetts, in which witchcraft and the worship of dark arts were reviled and summarily dealt with by execution – it tells the tale of an English migrant farmer, struggling to make ends meet, who resorts in desperation to seeking the help of the demon Pan, and the ensuing consequences for he and his family. There is an overall message of having true faith in God in this book, even when having betrayed Him so heinously.
The story is beautifully told, the settings and the period effortlessly constructed; there is no work required on the part of reader or author to place you right there, in frontier-era America. Taylor writes wonderfully, in a simple, charismatic style. His book is deliciously dark and brimming with lasciviousness, the true horror of Satan’s seduction highly erotically-charged, explicitly so at times, but never gratuitously; you can see right before you the seduction of the people around the farmer, Obadiah, and feel for their helplessness, even when they are at their most sinful. The end of the book is the ultimate lesson in this parable, compounding all that has come before it.
There are a few grammatical errors, mainly punctuation, and on brief occasions, spelling, but otherwise it is superbly crafted and well-written – so simple to read, so engaging and enticing, you wonder at times, as the reader, if the author’s intention is in fact to seduce and corrupt you. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next, and I read the whole book in one long sitting. Some may feel that chapters would have been nice (there are none) but actually in this format the story simply flows into your mind, events almost seeming to allure the reader in real time, so perhaps Taylor was right not to include them; I genuinely believe it helped, not hindered the reader experience, which is unusual for me.
As you might have guessed, I enjoyed this book tremendously – a nice, dark, erotic easy read – and I hugely recommend it for adult readers, especially those who like to melt into a book for hours at a time.