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The Hollow Tree

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  397 ratings  ·  72 reviews

From the critically acclaimed author of Hekla’s Children comes a dark and haunting tale of our world and the next.
After her hand is amputated following a tragic accident, Rachel Cooper suffers vivid nightmares of a woman imprisoned in the trunk of a hollow tree, screaming for help. When she begins to experience phantom sensations of lea

Kindle Edition, 483 pages
Published March 13th 2018 by Titan Books
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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  397 ratings  ·  72 reviews

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Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

I love horror novels based on urban legends, though in the case of The Hollow Tree, I only found out that it was inspired by a local myth in the author’s hometown after I finished the book. In his afterword, James Brogden describes the real life 1944 discovery of a woman’s skeleton inside the trunk of a hollow elm in Hagley Wood, Worchestershire, England. Her real identity was never discovered—and neither were her murder
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Let’s start with the most important- I really really really really really really really really – takes a breath– really really really really really really liked this book. Honestly? I took a chance on the book simply for the striking cover, and damn it, I wanted to find out who danced with Mary Oak before she died. I was not entirely prepared for the fullness this book presented to me.

The Hollow Tree is quite a dark read- it’s about solving the pasts’ grim mystery in a web of myths. Myths which
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites-books
*** I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you so much to Titan Books for the opportunity to read and review The Hollow Tree! ***

I had no idea what this book was about all I know about it was about a female that lost her hand in a tragic boating accident, and that's all that I know about this book. Imagine my surprise when I first read the first few chapters of this book that there were so much more about The Hollow Tree that meets the eye. I really don't
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I'm browsing the shelves at the library and this cover pops out at me and I was sold when I read this part of the blurb

When she begins to experience phantom sensations of leaves and earth with her missing limb

C'mon, what's not to love about that concept. We all hear stories about amputees having phantom pains from the missing limb but I have never heard of an author taking that phenomenon in this direction.

After a boating accident crushed her hand, Rachel has the hand amputated and shortly t
Hilary Mortz
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Hollow Tree is an astonishingly good book. I was completely gripped by it from start to finish. That sounds like a total cliché, but it is actually true, and the more I read it the better it became. I absolutely loved it. I really didn't want the book to end, in fact I spent a day on playing around social media avoiding the inevitable finish.

I won't go into the plot, that's what the sales description is for, but let me say that even if you think it all sounds a bit too complicated and fanta
Kristi Lamont
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There must be something in the popular literature zeitgeist about limbo right now.....So very glad I succumbed to my baser reading instincts and picked up on a whim what looked like a slightly schlocky horror book from the new materials shelf at the library. It was that but more; kind of like if the spirituality of Lincoln in the Bardo had been partly appropriated by Stephen King. "There are more things in heaven and earth" -- indeed, Horatio.
Dec 09, 2018 marked it as not-for-me  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
This is probably a very good book honestly. I just am not going to get through any more of it.

I put it down after reading 150 pages of it, and it's not bad persay, but when I look at my reading goal and the amount of days left, my brain does not want to put effort into this book.

I will likely keep this around and may get an itching for it in the future, but this is officially being DNF'd for now.
Lisa Naylor
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe James Brogden is perhaps one of my new favourite authors. To me, his writing style reminds me of a mix between Stephen King, Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman. His stories captivate me from beginning to end to the point where I don't even realise how much I have read until I am suddenly closing the book!! I absolutely loved this novel. I found it hard to put down and I even visited the setting of the novel to get a proper feel to it - although the real urban legend upon which this tale i ...more
I found this book to be an interesting read. The horror element in this book was not as strong as I would have liked, personally I would not have even classified it that way. There was no creep factor, no feelings of danger or urgency, and nothing that gave the delicious tension that you would feel while reading a horror story.

With that said, I liked the main idea in the story. That was pretty cool and there were plenty of twists and turns to keep my interest engaged. This story is heavily insp
Stacey Tewley (_books_lover_surprise IG)
An interesting read, I was a little confused for a while about the 3 main characters of Mary, but once I’d figured it out I found I quite enjoyed reading the hollow tree! I also enjoyed the factual story of “Bella” at the end! Overall an enjoyable read!
Marc Pigeon
Amazing twists! I want more!!
Seregil of Rhiminee
Originally published at Risingshadow.

James Brogden's The Hollow Tree is an atmospheric and intricately written dark fantasy novel for readers who love dark and unsettling stories. It's one of the finest dark fiction novels of recent years and can be highly recommended to fans of the genre.

After reading James Brogden's previous novel, Hekla's Children, I was convinced that he is a talented author and my instincts were correct. He truly is one of the best new dark fiction authors, because The Holl
Philip Dickens
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Right from the off, the premise of The Hollow Tree stands out. It's about a local legend from Birmingham, albeit a fictionalised version. But rather than focus on the source of the mystery, it looks at the mythos that builds up around the mystery, making what actually happened less vital than what people choose to believe happened.

The story's protagonist, Rachael, is plunged into the mystery in a unique fashion. After losing her arm, she discovers that her "phantom limb" is quite literal. It can
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The second book I’ve read by James Brogden and the second absolutely incredible novel by him. I really liked this novel- a lot.
Concerning the myth of Oak Mary, and who she danced with before she died, the novel explores an urban myth near Birmingham and expands on this to create an incredibly full but very dark novel. Which I love. I wasn’t ready for the darkness of this at first but what a stunning read. Easy to get lost in; just maybe sleeping with the lights on for the next few weeks.
If yo
William Stafford
James Brogden delivers the goods yet again and he does not stint on the action, excitement and the horror. Based on the local (to me) legend of Bella in the Wych Elm, Brogden comes at the story from an original angle, and our plucky protagonist Rachel, almost single-handedly (ahem) brings about a satisfying resolution. Brogden's style is clear and evocative, his imagery vivid, and his storytelling spot on. A cracking good read, entertaining, gripping and imaginative. Highly recommended.
Jonathan Oliver
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A curious mix of urban fantasy and folk horror that skirts nearer to the latter. It works really well, and the descriptions of Rachel’s journeys into the umbra had the feel of Clive Barker about them. The plot is nicely revealed and the ending is satisfactorily played. A solid, entertaining read.
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure about this book when I first started it, but it soon had me hooked as all the unexpected twists and turns built up! An interesting, fascinating fictionalisation of one of my favourite unsolved mysteries.
Andi Adamson
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book. Descriptions are vivid and numerous. SO many twists and turns to figure out who Oak Mary is. I had a hard time putting it down and being responsible when it was time to be. It can be a bit confusing at times as it weaves the story together. By the end it all made sense. If you like other worldly suspenseful books, I'm pretty sure you'll like this one.
Jonathan Maas
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good!
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, so creepy, stayed up half the night to finish it
Victoria Hamel
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The more I thought about this book after reading it, the more I loved it. James Brogden does such an excellent job of giving a sense of place and setting a mood. It's fantastic. My hope is that Mr. Brogden will write a second book about Rachel so we can follow her further adventures. I rec'd a complimentary copy of the book to review for the website Project Fandom. You can read my review here:
Adam Shore
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and the characters within it. it was not at all what i was expecting and yet it was a really good story.
Faith Hurst-Bilinski
I just loved this book. Couldn’t put it down.
Lauren Tupper
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: overdrive
Mary in the oak tree
Cold as cold can be
Waiting for the sky to fall
Who will dance with me?

A fast paced and utterly gripping novel. The Hollow Tree is a horror novel (that wonderful slow burn of creeping horror) based on an urban legend and I absolutely loved it. The characters were strong and well written and the prose was damn good.

The story takes inspiration from the Hagley Woods murder - in the 1940s, the body of a woman was found in a tree trunk. She has never been formally identified and th
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, read-in-2019
A gripping ghost story. I'm becoming a real fan of James Brogden's work. Hekla's Children still haunts me several months later. The Hollow Tree is a good successor, and now I have to go read his other books.
Pamela Scott

(copy from publisher and voluntarily reviewed)

I was gripped from the start of The Hollow Tree and could not wait to find out what happens next.

The book took ages to read, because real life got in the way, not because I wasn’t loving every word on every page.

The concept behind The Hollow Tree is original and I found the book fascinating and terrifying in equal amounts. I loved reading about Rachel discovering her creepy new ‘talents’. If things weren’t cree
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally reviewed at Thoughts Stained With Ink:

(ARC copy given by Titan in exchange for an honest review)

So, um, whoa.

First off, when I got the email asking if I’d be interested in this ARC (which, can I also say, is still one of the freaking coolest things EVER?!), I was a little bit hesitant.

Mostly because I’m a wimp.

It’s a horror novel. A horror thriller. I’m the type of person who watches horror films, if people force me (or if he is really attractive, as I used to claim), between fingers
Mindy Rose
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a woman loses her hand in an accident and soon begins feeling things - with her missing hand - that aren't really there, and having nightmares of women being murdered and dumped into a hollow tree. this was inspired by the true story of bella in the wych elm and was wonderfully creepy and thrilling, the mystery was woven incredibly well and the ending was so extremely satisfying that when i closed the book after finishing the last page i literally started crying. 100% my favorite book so far thi ...more
Brittany Smith
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my first book that I have read from James Brogden and I was blown away! I had a chance to meet him at the NEC where he was promoting his books and I zeroed in on this one first due to its cover first! He went on to tell me the plot and I was hooked!

This book is a supernatural roller coaster of whos, hows, and whys! We go on a journey where a woman who had a horrible boat accident lost her hand but gained a supernatural ability. As we go along this journey we are introduced to a whole new
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James Brogden is a writer of horror and dark fantasy. A part-time Australian who grew up in Tasmania and the Cumbrian Borders, he has since escaped to suburbia and now lives with his wife and two daughters in the Midlands, where he teaches English. When not writing or teaching he can usually be found up a hill, poking around stone circles and burial mounds. He also owns more lego than is strictly ...more