Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Without giving any spoilers away, we will be discussing the horror/thriller called All Hallows by Christopher Golden. In my humble opinion, this book was an epic flop despite how much I liked a majority of the characters in it. It is a shining example of the dumbest story line I have ever read. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it until I was halfway done and you know that I refuse to not finish a book that I have started! Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on All Hallows for gruesome violence, domestic abuse, harm to children, and stupidity. Now, let’s get to it:
Tony and his daughter, Chloe, are Halloween fanatics and create a Haunted Woods attraction for charity every year in the vast woods behind their home. Sadly, it will be the last year for their fright fest fun as Tony, his wife Alice, Chloe, and son Rick will be selling the property because they are flat broke. Tony and Chloe wanted their final run with the Haunted Woods to be a wild success and reveled in the chance to hear their neighbors scream. Unfortunately, their well meant spooks aren’t the only terror happening in the woods on Halloween night.
Throughout the neighborhood, families and children plan their Halloween activities and split up accordingly. After all, there is much to do; trick or treating, a neighborhood block party, and the Haunted Woods. Tony’s son, Rick, will be trick or treating with his best friend Billie. Neighborhood teens, Steve, Vanessa, and Julia will be at the party. Meanwhile, the sad children of the Sweeney family, Charlie and Brian, would be waiting up for their dad who had left the family earlier in the day.
During Rick and Billie’s trick or treating rounds, they witnessed their supposed pedophile neighbors bringing a small boy that neither of them recognized into their home. Convinced that evil was afoot, Rick and Billie burst through the home of Zack and Ruth to rescue the boy from their clutches. His name is Leonard and he is a slight boy with a strange story. All he could tell his new companions was that he was hiding from the Cunning Man and needed their help – just until midnight.
After Charlie’s drunk, adulterous father left the family for good on Halloween afternoon, he needed an escape. He decided to go to his favorite cluster of bushes – a secret spot that you could crawl through and hide in when you don’t want to be found. There, he met little Sarah Jane, frightened and dirty in an old clown costume. She told Charlie that she was hiding from someone too, but darted away when his big brother, Brian, came to bring him home. Later, she would show up at their doorstep with her own tale of the Cunning Man and the protection she needed until midnight. Concerned for the little girl, the boys’ mom agreed to let her stay.
In similar fashion, two more peculiar children let themselves be known. One was Arthur, a boy dressed up as a scarecrow who insisted upon the help of Vanessa and Julia. The other, a little girl named Delilah, who Tony took under his wing when she showed up wandering through the Haunted Woods alone. Each child was equally as terrified of the Cunning Man and their fear convinced whomever they approached to keep them close.
While the elected “guardians” of the children waited around until midnight, they began growing suspicious. None of the missing kids were saying anything that made sense and the elders among them thought it was a prank or pointless. Either way, they weren’t hanging around. As the guardians began to head back to their own homes and plans, the children would proceed to freak out violently, with strength impossible for a kid. They needed them – rather, the Cunning Man and his witch bride did. Will the people who intended to help these children live to tell their own story of the Cunning Man? Read All Hallows to find out!
When I first started reading All Hallows, I enjoyed it immensely. As a former haunted house actor, my heart swelled over Tony and his daughter making their own haunted attraction and I could relate to how much they loved it. I liked punk rock, sharp witted Vanessa, felt terribly for the mother of Brian and Charlie, and felt fiercely protective over Rick and Billie. The chapters were all told from a different point of view, which you know I love, and I was excited to see how all of their stories would intertwine. I just didn’t expect the reason that they did to be so dumb lol.
As the missing children began to reveal themselves, I was still very much on board with All Hallows. I mean, it’s creepy right? Little ones all alone on Halloween night, it was easy to feel bad for them. Then, the nonsense of the Cunning Man got brought up and I was like “Oh. This is what’s happening?”. It was literally just a Slenderman knockoff and not a good one. You know the deal, a kid kills someone to win the favor of a terrifying, shadowy creature. It was just that and nothing more.
As I read about the Cunning Man, I still felt the urge to give the book a chance because the drama between the characters was interesting and it might get better. But, obviously, that didn’t happen. Regardless of whatever Christopher Golden did to paint a different light on the Cunning Man didn’t change the fact that it was still the exact same thing as the urban myth that spread like wildfire in my teen years. In fact, the ridiculous changes that were made just made the book even more stupid; as if the author could cover up where the inspiration for the Cunning Man came from just by altering its appearance. Well, Mr. Golden – you didn’t fool this girl!
I rarely do this. This is only the second time in Lil Red’s Book Club history that I will be giving out negative stars, but All Hallows deserves it. A negative ten out of ten stars seems appropriate and I wouldn’t recommend this book to my worst enemy. Definitely skip on it!
What are you reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah