There are books that move you, books that anger you, books that thrill you and books that bore you. “Rarity from the Hollow” (Dog Horn Publishing) does none of these things. It will likely confound you, confuse you and all the while compel you to continue reading through to the end.
Author Robert Eggleton takes on issues of child abuse and molestation, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, and abject poverty. Set in the author’s home state of West Virginia, the issues are wide-spread, extending far beyond the confines of Appalachia.
The story follows Lacy Dawn, who is a pre-teen and the only daughter of an abusive addict of a father suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and a downtrodden, undereducated mother.
Her best friend, Faith, is murdered at the hand of her father, leaving Lacy without her confidant. Armed with these facts alone the story would be depressing.
It could easily proceed from this premise, exploring social issues in rural Appalachia. But before you discount the tale, add in trees that talk to Lacy, an androgynous android named DotCom and the ability to communicate with Lacy’s best friend from beyond the grave. Then top that with a bargain struck between DotCom and Lacy — in exchange for him “fixing” her parents, she must save the world.
Although that sounds like a large order for a small, impoverished girl. The novel turns on the premise that the answer involves the world’s largest shopping mall. The mall’s name? Shptiludrp — or Shop Till You Drop.
As the story proceeds from her seemingly dead-end hollow life, more fantasy and science-fiction elements are revealed. It’s easy to wonder if the story is a flight of fancy for a young girl escaping her real life for a make-believe one or if the unusual, unexpected and outlandish events are her new reality.
It’s up to you to decide if she has merely retreated into her imagination to deal with the hardscrabble life she has been dealt.
It is a story of a child, but it is not a story for children. Adult themes abound, and the satirical interplay on subjects beyond a child’s understanding are food for thought for the adult reader.
You may never read another book quite like this one. It’s not what you expect, so enter the pages with no expectations other than to be entertained, and challenged. Eggleton weaves humor throughout, which is a necessary element to a book that hovers around dark matters.
One undeniable benefit of the book, whether you enjoy it or even read it, is that all profits are donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.
Eggleton served as a children’s advocate in West Virginia for more than 40 years. He is a recently retired children’s psychotherapist from a mental health center in Charleston, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse and other mental health concerns. “Rarity from the Hollow” is his debut novel, and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn adventures in Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri and Atomjack Science Fiction.
M. Lynne Squires is the author of “Writers on Writing,” “Mid-Century Recipes from Cocktails to Comfort Food” and “Letters to My Son.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.