Most of the books I’ve read this year had been due to a whim review or comment on the Internet. Though the general quality of these books varies one of these I found rather charming was Jonathan Edward Durham Winterset Hollow. A horror book wrapped in a fairy tale children’s story.
Now taking into consideration my feelings for this book are rather meh, I do think it was an interesting take and something I wasn’t expecting. That alone makes it something worth discussing. Winterset Hollow is a book about troubled people reading and then searching for the origin of a book only to find it is as fucked as they are.
And that’s alright.
Sailing to an island off the coast of Washington the story follows three friends Eamon, Caroline, and Mark as they go on a pilgrimage to Addington Isle, a place owned by the wealthy author Edward Bartholomew Addington who penned Eamon’s and Caroline’s favorite book, Winterset Hollow. In an event known as Barley day, the triad runs into a group of other fans as they head for the island.
What follows is a semi anticlimactic let’s sit around and drink until eventually Eamon gets bored and starts to wander around the island. In a rather confusing chain of events, the group finds themselves in the mansion that is normally chained up, and more shockingly in the presents of the characters of their beloved book. Runny the Rabbit, Flackwell the Frog, Finn the Fox, and Binghamton the bear.
This is the part of the book I think is the most difficult to wrap my imagination around and where the book really struggles for me as horror. The group of animals is friendly, at first, creating a massive feast and party for their guest, this of course ends as Finn and Bing start killing people. It is like a mixture of The Most Dangerous Game mixed with Alice In Wonderland, which is really cool but at no time did Finn or any of the other animals seem scary to me.
If I pictured them as Five Nights At Freddie’s characters initially my opinions might have been different but alas I did not. Finn, in my mind, was Robin Hood, running around with his little bow and hat. Bing was just a big bear but isn’t painted as well as The Brown from Age Of Myth Book One or the guardian from the Dark Tower series. Yeah, sure bears are scary forces of nature but that alone cannot be the carrying narrative.
Outside of that what follows is a pretty generic hunt to survive as the group scatters across the island, slowly discovering the horrors that occurred there years ago and how Addington wasn’t some saint storyteller, but a slaver and general shitty guy. They also throw a little twist at the end that was an expected but nice touch.
All and all I was happy I read this book but It was nothing to sing home about. It was full of typical tropes but freshly painted ones, the dialoged was fucking annoying and I found all but Finn insufferable but they speak seldom so it was easy to ignore. If you are in the market for a more recent horror that has a nice pairing for fairytale Winterset Hollow might just be the story for you but as for me, that is all for now.
Thanks for the read!
Goodreads: Winterest Hollow