Hollow Pike tells the story of Lis London, a teenager who moves in with her older sister to escape bullying at her old school. When she’s befriended by the popular girls at her new school, she hopes she’ll get the new start she hoped for.
It soon becomes apparent however, that she’s drawn to three outsiders, and she has to make a decision between the two groups. However, when a prank ends horribly, she has to question everyone.
On one level, this is a tale about fitting in, friendship, finding out who you are, and dealing with the effects of bullying. James has captured the thoughts and actions of this age group, and he’s created some rather brilliant characters, especially Kitty and Delilah.
On another level is a murder mystery, which leads Lis to question who could be responsible, and who she can trust.
Finally, there’s a supernatural element – the witchcraft mentioned on the cover is essential to the story, but is subtly done. The writing is very atmospheric, and the tension builds to a crescendo at the end.
These various elements work so well together, it has a creepy feel without being too scary, and I would highly recommend it to fans of most YA genres – and there’s plenty to appeal to adults as well. It’s a contemporary tale which blends seamlessly with ancient tales of witchcraft, all brought together by some excellent writing.
James Dawson is another author I knew nothing about until invited to a Foyles YA event. I’m glad that changed, because Hollow Pike was one of my favourite reads this year, and I look forward to whatever comes next. It has been hinted that if Hollow Pike is popular enough, we may get to hear Kitty’s story next. That’s something I’d love to read, so please go ahead and buy!