Mary SanGiovanni’s works are a fast read, and I mean that as a compliment. They’re like a roller coaster, the one that shoots you out at 60 mph – strong starts, fast, intense ride, sometimes ends too soon, but looking forward to the next one. As I haven’t read everything by SanGiovanni and am currently reading her novel Thrall (set in Jersey!), I’ll concentrate most of my attention on her Hollower trilogy, which encompasses The Hollower, Found You, and The Triumvirate, respectively.
In the Hollower, something alien is stalking residents of Lakehaven, New Jersey. It can’t see them, hear them, or touch them, but it knows them — their fears, their insecurities, and their secrets. It knows how to destroy them from the inside out. And it won’t stop until each of them is dead. Dave Kohlar has never felt like he was good for anything. But when his sanity, his life, and the safety of his only family and friends is in danger, he has to look inside himself for a strength that his otherwordly enemy can’t touch — strength that can hopefully save them all. (plot synopsis shamelessly borrowed from Amazon).
One of SanGiovanni’s strengths is that she’s not afraid to put her characters through the wringer – and what a wringer it is. She doesn’t pull punches on the red stuff, the monsters, or in describing the mental and emotional toll fighting evil can take on normal people. And that’s one of the things that make these novels so interesting to read. These people pay a price, they suffer, they die to fight this thing. Some of the characters return for the sequel(s), and I remember feeling so bad for them – haven’t they been through enough?!?! But that’s the sign that the writer is doing their job, and she does it very well. By book three I felt exhausted for some of these poor people, but I still wanted to keep reading.
She’s also not afraid to kill off major characters, which keeps the reader engaged, since they have no idea who may or may not be around by the end of the chapter, let alone the end of the series. With so many books and movies telegraphing their every move, SanGiovanni keeps us guessing.
Mary SanGiovanni’s official website: http://www.marysangiovanni.com/ (you can purchase all of her available novels and short stories here)