Review: Greg Chapman’s Hollow House

30968911Greg Chapman’s shorts, and his collection Vaudeville and Other Nightmares, have been part of my reading spectrum for the last few years. Before Hollow House, I mostly would have described his work as gothic, though his collection (reviewed here) demonstrated his abilities within the whole gamut of the horror genre.

Hollow House is Chapman’s first published novel, and it was nominated for the Bram Stoker Awards (highly-regarded international awards for horror fiction). I admit to some trepidation, seeing all the glowing reviews from the horror community, as I’ve not been much of a horror reader for the last decade.

The fears were well founded. Chapman takes the veneer of civility and decency of cookie-cutter suburbs and upends it to shake out all the secrets and deviance. While the story has gothic overtones, he seamlessly embroiders in cosmic horror to the fabric of setting and character.

Most of characters tend toward unlikeable to downright despicable, the perfect garden in which the Kemper House sows its deadly crop. While it would likely have been impossible with such a large cast of characters, some further character development could have given the piece a little more nuance.

Much more gory than my previous experience of Chapman’s work, Hollow House kept to (what I suspect is) Greg’s love of the gothic with a blood-spattered, existential horror. An excellent first novel that creeped and grossed me out; so a solid offering to the genre.

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