Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton
Publication: June 16th 2012 by Dog Horn Publishing
Format: Paperback Pages: 286
‘Lacy Dawn is a little girl who lives in a magical forest where all the trees love her and she has a space alien friend who adores her and wants to make her queen of the universe. What’s more, all the boys admire her for her beauty and brains. Mommy is very beautiful and Daddy is very smart, and Daddy’s boss loves them all.
Lacy Dawn, the eleven year old protagonist, perches precariously between the psychosis of childhood and the multiple neuroses of adolescence, buffeted by powerful gusts of budding sexuality and infused with a yearning to escape the grim and brutal life of a rural Appalachian existence. In this world, Daddy is a drunk with severe PTSD, and Mommy is an insecure wraith. The boss is a
dodgy lecher, not above leering at the flat chest of an eleven-year-old girl.
Yes, all in one book.
It is a children’s story for adults with a happily ever after ending.’ – Goodreads
Have you ever read a book that confused the absolute crap out of you leaving you wondering if it was a work of genius or terrible? That’s how I felt about this book.
Before I jump right into my review, I want to clarify that this book was sent to me by the author, Robert Eggleton. Eggleton has spent a lot of years working to help children who are or have been victims of abuse. He is a retired children’s psychotherapist who has dedicated hard work and effort to helping child victims of sexual, physical and mental abuse cope. Despite being retired, Eggleton’s publication of Rarity from the Hollow reflects how deeply involved he still is with the fight to help the disadvantaged young. The author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow are donated to a child abuse prevention programme. Therefore, I respect him as both an author and an individual for being such a goddamn amazing person.
When I first read the description for Rarity from the Hollow, I was taken aback by how different it sounded. The book boasts a sci-fi storyline that somehow also manages to address child abuse (physical and sexual), PTSD, domestic violence and fantasy all from the perception of an eleven-year-old narrator, Lacy Dawn. While reading the book, I felt like this cocktail of themes was far too overwhelming. Sometimes I feel like writers need to slow down and take it one step at a time because they ruin potentially amazing storylines by trying to juggle everything at once. And dude, it’s SO confusing to read!
Eggleton did a fantastic job portraying child abuse in the first quarter of the novel. The way he showed how normalised abuse becomes in the lives of the suffers so that the idea doesn’t even make them flinch was profound. Faith’s character, in particular, was eye-opening, and I felt awful for her. But later, the child abuse focus simmered out and almost disappeared from the storyline. I felt like this was an area of expertise for Eggleton, and the story could have packed a bigger punch overall regarding message and storyline if there was more focus on where the story was going. As the focus wavered, so did the characters. The characters were unpredictable; I didn’t really get to know them because they didn’t say or do things the way I’d expect them to.
I was so baffled by the introduction of android, DotCom, and the whole spirit of a dead kid inhabiting a magical forest! I forgot I was reading a sci-fi fantasy hybrid and thought that Lacy Dawn was probably schizophrenic until the characters around her began responding to the weirdness. Then I got tired. There was too much weird and wacky.
I like sci-fi, but I didn’t get its role in Rarity from the Hollow. Like… at all. One minute you’re on Earth the next you’re on another planet, Shptiludrp (yeah, I can’t pronounce it either), which is a huge shopping centre and the ‘mall manager’ is the boss of the planet – I really didn’t understand this part of the story. I felt like I was missing something because I couldn’t figure out what a shopping centre had to do with anything and why Lacy Dawn was suddenly fighting giant talking cockroaches. I started wondering if the entire story was some giant metaphor flying right over my head.
On the other hand, the weirdness of it all kept me interested in what was going to happen at the end, and that’s why I can’t make up my mind about how I feel about this book, which is why I am giving it three stars.
Eggleton has provided the following resources to help readers understand some aspects of Rarity from the Hollow: