The Horror of Holmwood, by Camila White (2016)

he Horror of HolmwoodReview by Jaq D Hawkins.

This is a fairly short Horror story about a writer who gets caught up in the legends of a local forest when a girl appears at the forest edge, begging for help. Driven by his attraction to the girl as much as his sense of humanity, he follows her into the forest to help rescue her friends.

The writing in this one is amateurish, but shows promise. The ideas are good and I think with more practice, the writer could develop into a very good storyteller. Things happen pretty fast in this story and in not very subtle ways, it soon becomes clear that trouble awaits the unfortunate protagonist.

The one thing I didn’t like about it is the overuse of clichéd symbols in ways that show an ignorance that was alright in Dennis Wheatley’s time, but should be outdated in our more enlightened times. A pentagram, for example, when the story is describing raising the devil from Hell. It’s so old black and white movie! Strange writing on the wall is just over used and graphic pictures of rape and human sacrifice  are outmoded and lack subtlety. The fear factor could have been upped more notches with fewer inappropriate visual clues and I personally find the use of Pagan symbols used in association with these atrocities offensive.

Despite my misgivings about this, the story did keep me mostly interested to find out what would happen in the end. The library sequence seemed slow and repetitive but mostly the plot moves along too quickly if anything. I would even say the ending was rushed. It could have been drawn out to bring out much more of the Horror factor, though I fully approve of the ending in itself. Too many stories become predictable and a deviation from the expected is a breath of fresh air.

All things considered, this is a three star story. However, I think that if the writer were to revisit it in future and expand on some opportunities to raise tension, it could make it into the four to five star realm. The structure of a good plot is there, but needs further development.