Hollowing Screams by Barbara Watkins
★★★★★ There is a deliciousness in being scared and mystified. When I was a child I used to have nightmares. Could it have been because I loved Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling? Later it was The Outer Limits and Tales from the Crypt. They held a morbid fascination for me as I watched the strange plots and twists and turns, all the while feeling a sense of dread as to what would happen next.
I read the last page of Hollowing Screams by Barbara Watkins and shivered as I felt a cold chill reach its bony fingers out of the pages to grab me. I couldn’t shake the feeling of fear and constantly looked over my shoulder all day, even though I live very far from where the story takes place.
Evil is evil. Ms. Watkins has figured out the formula and treats her readers to raw terror as she expertly weaves a story of small-town life gone insane.
We are introduced to the White family in the beginning pages. Not too scary a family to begin with, pretty normal actually. Howard and Katrina – a WWII love story. Until it wasn’t any more. Howard begins to drink and stay away from home more and more as his wife descends into madness. They have a child, Shannon, who is witness to her mother’s deterioration. Something goes very wrong and Katrina blames the incident on her daughter. Shannon seeks solace from her father and the two bond together. This infuriates Katrina, who demands that Howard leave. He does, and Shannon is left fatherless, living with a mother who is on-again, off-again. She manages to get through school but is shattered by the loss of her father and never forgives her mother for his disappearance.
Fast-forward thirty years. Shannon is a psychiatrist in the small town of Patton, Missouri. She is married to her soul mate, James. Her best friend is Maggie, and just to throw a wrench into the plan, James and Maggie were still an item when Shannon lured James away. Or did she?
Larry, the bartender, is a friend of James. Lola is an old Gypsy woman who appears at will and “sees” things. Frank thinks he’s in love with Maggie. Is he?
Someone is murdered. When the killer seeks to confess they are stopped and things get even weirder. Where’s the body? What is happening to spook the people of Patton out of their minds? They hold a town meeting and it seems that the only sane voice in the room is that of the creepy woman who has just appeared in their midst, Lola.
This is a novel of such sheer terror that it will make you sleep with the covers over your head for many nights to come. You’ll look over your shoulder constantly to be sure no one is behind you. You might want to stay behind locked doors.
I may never go to Missouri again. Unusual things happen there. Someone could be waiting for you. There’s a line that is blurred for me now and I’m not sure what is fact and what is fiction. Only read this book if you have the stomach for it. You may spiral into madness yourself as you try to figure out what is really going on and who the culprit is. It’s a tantalizing read, but only for those who are unafraid of the dark. I cannot wait to read another book by Barbara Watkins (excuse me, there’s someone knocking on my door – or are they? Oh no! It’s some guys in white coats – quick, I have to hide – let me grab Hollowing Screams to take along – I’d like to read it again)!