It's clear that James used to be a teacher. The teenage voices are the authentic creations of someone who has clearly spent a lot of time around them and I really appreciated that about Hollow Pike. It added a level of realism that can sometimes be lacking. The characters all had fully-formed personalities and unique voices in their own rights--though I especially liked Delilah and Jack. I loved how NORMAL the love interest was. He was just a guy. A cute, intelligent guy, but still. A guy. There was no overly detailed, riddled with adjectives passages about how he was the most mysterious, most attractive most amazing boy in the world and how could she ever live without him. It was a perfectly normal teenage romance and I loved it.
It was wonderful to read a book set in England (and in the North, wahay!) and written by an English (and Norther, wahay!) author. It feels somehow more down-to-earth for me than all the American books I read. The setting of Hollow Pike in rural Yorkshire was suitably creepy, and whilst I've never visited Yorkshire (apart from York) I could definitely imagine myself there.
The plot was SO clever. I loved all the witchcraft references, how Lis didn't believe them, and what was actually going on in the atmospheric little town I love how Lis' dreams fitted in to the eventual explanation and once everything was revealed I couldn't help but wonder how I'd never figured it out, it was wonderfully misleading. I think I suspected EVERYONE at one point or another. The book was fast-paced and tight, I never found my mind wandering or wanting to flick through the pages to get to the action.
One thing that did bug me was Lis herself. Having suffered bullying at her old school, before her move to her sister's, she was naturally going to be a little fragile. And yet, whilst she stood upto Laura, a bully who represented everything that had forced her to leave her home in the first place, she wanted to run away from what was happening in Hollow Pike. I just didn't understand that. How she could be so strong in the face of one thing that scared her, and yet so weak in another. Plus she was actually going to ABANDON her friends in favour of saving her own life. That just really didn't wash with me. I definitely found Lis to be a bit of a sap, and much preferred the secondary characters.
This is a fantastic debut, well written and teeming with clever references, witty lines and colourful characters that I fully appreciated. Bang on trend with its witchcraft-y elements and sporting a stunning, eye-catching cover, it's perfect for anyone who loves paranormal YA, but is looking for something just a little bit different.
Review originally posted at: http://thecaitfiles.blogspot.com