Review: All Hallows by Christopher Golden

cover of All Hallows by Christopher GoldenAll Hallows by Christopher Golden
St. Martin’s Press (January 24, 2023)
336 pages: $22.99 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Christopher Golden sets us up for what sounds like a perfect Halloween night in the opening chapters of his novel All Hallows…and then viciously, gleefully rips it all apart.

It’s 1984 in Coventry, Massachusetts. The kids on Parmenter Road are looking forward to a night of trick-or-treating; the adults are looking forward to the party that starts once the trick-or-treating is done; and everyone is looking forward to a visit to the Haunted Woods, one family’s tradition that’s grown into a much-anticipated annual event. On the surface, things are great. But behind that thin veneer of neighborly civility, things are coming to a boil.

Infidelity, homophobia, financial ruin, broken trust — these are the things the masks are hiding this particular Halloween night. But there’s more, because this is the night that the boundary between our world and others is thinnest, and there are things on the other side that need to come through. Things that desire to hunt and feed on the unsuspecting children of Parmenter Street.

Golden heaps on the supernatural horror and human drama in equal measure in All Hallows, and the mix of the two makes this a fantastic and memorable read. The first half of the book is mostly about bringing this small corner of the world and this sizeable cast of characters to life, and it is time well invested. Golden has always been great at creating believable characters that readers feel real emotion for (whether it’s affection or hate), and it’s the character work that elevates All Hallows.

Meanwhile, almost casually, he throws in a terrifying mythology about another dimension, a grey space on the other side of the veil where a witch hungers for young victims, where children who are literally rotten to the core carry out unspeakable plans for survival, and where unlikely heroes are born.

All Hallows is the work of a master of horror, characterization, and pace. It’s destined to be a classic, one that you should grab and devour immediately, and then revisit in October, when the air is crisp and the pumpkins are carved and the shadows grow deeper and darker. Highly recommended, and a great first read for 2023.

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