Hollow Pike is Juno Dawson’s debut novel and is a welcome addition to the British young adult movement. It tells the story of Lis, who has moved in with her sister and her husband in Yorkshire after being hounded out of her school by bullies.
When she is bullied again by the class tormentor, Laura, Lis bonds with the school outcasts; Kitty, Delilah and jack and they scheme to teach her a lesson. After a practical joke however, Laura is killed.
Now, Lis and her friends need to solve the murder because they were also in the woods that night and may be in danger themselves.
The novel is set in a small town filled withlore and legends of witchcraft and Dawson brilliantly sets up the suspense here. For me, I never doubted Hollow Pike and its superstitious residents and minor characters like Mrs Gilespie create this atmosphere.
Juno Dawson has been a teacher and worked within diversity and bullying and this shows in her writing. Her depiction of bullying in schools is brutally honest, as are the teachers’ reactions – I am pretty sure in middle school I had the exact same conversation as Lis with Mr Grey when he learns of her bullying – and this makes the novel more authentic and creates a plot and characters that feel so real and honest, I think teenagers will find something to relate to within this novel and love it.
Dawson’s use of sexuality and the relationship between Kitty and Delilah is another testament to her writing. While some depictions of anything other than heterosexuality seem to ignore the concept or existence of bisexuality – yes, Glee, I’m looking at you, Kurt – Dawson’s characters are cautious and working out who they are, whether they like boys, girls or both and it is written very well.
I loved the romantic development between Lis and Danny and thought it was a great portrayal of a teenage romance and that all encompassing first love and the doubts you’re good enough.
This is not a particularly supernatural book, it is more a novel about the fear of an act than the act itself – the Crucible by Arthur Miller is offered as comparison frequently throughout the novel. For me, Dawson’s strengths were his depictions of bullying, family, friendship and romance. I really look forward to more of his writing in the future.
I received my copy for free through Orion/ Indigo and am grateful for this. I was even more excited when I realised it was a signed copy and would like to thank Orion for sending me this. The tone of my review or content has not been influenced by any of the above.