Christopher Golden’s All Hallows

91sobDkm9NL._AC_UL900_SR615,900_Christopher Golden’s All Hallows is a new novel from a best-selling author known for his work in the strange and horror genres. It unsurprisingly focuses on Halloween, and about strange happenings as well as disturbing mundane actions which occur on one particular example of the holiday. 

Working in an extremely short time frame, this book takes place almost entirely on the night of Halloween 1984. Most of the chapters are short, switching from one point of view to another in each section at variable length before moving on to the next. While that works structurally, it does make it status released in January a little strange.

Parmenter Road, a small neighborhood in Coventry Massachusetts, serves as the setting on a pretty universal level. The various families there, both the children and adults in them, represent the bulk of those who appear and an even larger percentage of individuals given something like a point of view.

There is never a full explanation as to the goings-on in this book, supernatural or otherwise. This is overall quite satisfying as for those interpersonal conflicts taking place between the families no individual would have all of the information, and the supernatural material is only allowed in front of the readers through limited points of view and as a result explaining a great deal related to how it works would it be inappropriate to the story as it is told in this time frame.

The fact that people often, though not always, betray or disappoint is a fairly key theme in this novel. Parents disappoint their children, friends betray friends, and people hurt their partners in the most intimate and painful of ways. While such elements are common in novels of any type, including horror, this book gives more time to those who could be seen as doing the horrible than most. Indeed a fair amount of time is even spend on individuals who have done unspeakable things to children. While they are not in the end made sympathetic, both of them are given a little more depth than one might expect such individuals to receive.  Cheating partners are given time for their points of view, with various degrees of understanding, sympathy, or even forgivability demonstrated. However like many horror stories and films, at least some degree of moralizing exists in the assortment of individuals who coyld be seen as having transgressed.

There is queer inclusion in the book, a nice enough touch compared to the baiting in some other famous period pieces. Teenage hormones are certainly touched on, in a relatively subtle and respectful manner. At the same time, the problems and pitfalls related to both of these in the 1980s are touched upon. It is a relatively realistic depiction that, combined with the moments of racism or general neighborhood gossip.

All Hallows is a very nice horror novel. The supernatural aspects are slow to build up, yet largely very well telegraphed. Characters act in a more or less believable manner, and the steady odd twists and turns to the nature of what is going on will leave reader’s guessing right to the last. Easily recommended to curious parties, fans of Christopher golden, or those looking for a new halloween horror novel.

(St. Martins Press 2023)

Warner Holme

Warner Holme is a longtime booklover who tends to read anything he can. He has held many positions, ranging from the educational to medical all the way to the mildly usurous. Largely forgotten by those around him, Warner has lived in a number of locations, yet keeps being pulled back to the south. He currently lives there with his pets, and politely asks not to be disturbed.

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