Out of Devil’s Hollow
by C.S. Whitman

"Only lost souls were left to the remembrances of horror that had blanketed the lives of so many that summer."

Nine-year-old Suzy Jennings is a carefree, precocious young lady in the summer of 1957. Living on her parents' 120-acre farm in eastern Kentucky, she spends most days lost in her own thoughts in the creek bed until her mother, Lorna, calls her in for supper. However, one day she hears strange voices in the woods which mark the end of her childhood. On an outing to town, she is horrified to recognize one of the voices when the town drunkard speaks to her mother in a familiar tone. Her fear causes her to keep this recognition to herself even as she watches her family unravel. Suzy is eventually made aware of a deep and horrifying secret held by her parents, yet she struggles with the knowledge. Events are moving fast and becoming dangerous, and Suzy questions whether she has waited too late to reveal what and who she heard in the woods.

In this coming-of-age story, the protagonist deals with adult problems at a tender age. As Suzy is tormented over the family secret she discovers, the reader empathizes with her. Written in both the first-person and third-person points of view, the author allows readers to get a full scope of how the family secret affects everyone. This close-knit family is a picture of small-town life where the rumor mill is almost as fast as today's internet. Those who live in the hollow are careful to take care of their own. Yet even in the peaceful, picturesque hills of Kentucky, evil lurks, and Whitman does a good job of asking the question, "What is real evil?" This philosophical question permeates the novel. The answer isn't so cut and dried. Even the most horrendous act is done in innocence and leaves a lingering unsettling feeling once the reading is done.

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