Dark Hollow Road is too good to ruin, so my advice is to skip this review. Skip the jacket blurb, too. Enter this blind… buy it and settle-in for a weekend read.
Fine—since you’re still here, I’ll try to tip you off the fence (without spoilers). The core genius of this novel is the use of an alternating chapter format.
The first perspective meanders from 1948 to 1977 in rich, rural detail, cleverly hopping a few decades to add mystery to the intertwining with point of view #2. Aside from location and a shared timeline in the final act, the second perspective is positioned as a polar opposite to the first.
The alternating parallels of life, experience, and setting create tension among believable, well-drawn characters as the narrative bleeds together. Entirely unlike one another in experience, politics, superstition, possessions, taboos, age, and assumptions, the principle characters (like most Americans today, heh) have little shot at reaching a truce or finding common ground, which delivers a hint of tragedy beyond the specifics of the plot.
From the outside, the motivations of all the characters make sense, and Morris plays with the story by blurring traditional, by-the-numbers good and evil in her plot. As a result, the reader is left to wonder if the Sugar Lady is (literally) a witch, a vengeful spirit… or is she only a reclusive old woman, the product of tremendous abuse and loss?
After all, we have known this woman—in her own words—from early childhood (and it was not a nice one).
Unraveling her fate, and that of other innocents, is a delight that comes of walking down Dark Hollow Road.