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A Dream of Drowned Hollow Paperback – January 1, 2006
The Amazon Book Review
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A DREAM OF DROWNED HOLLOW, Lee's Gryphon Award-winning ecological fantasy novel. There are spirits afoot deep in the Ozark hills of Blackburn County, Arkansas. Things happen. Ghosts walk. Elemental creatures dance to the wild music of the rhythms of Nature. And those who've lived in the hills for generations can see them. But now there's activity of another kind ravaging the hills; bulldozers, chainsaws, and hunters of man and beast. As old-growth trees fall to developers, rivers are dammed, hollows are flooded, and residents are driven from land settled by their many-times-great-grandparents, April Rue Stoner hopes against hope that her gift can help her stop the destruction before everything she's ever known is gone.
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April Rue Stoner, the heroine, is a girl I liked more and more as the story progressed. She is a young impoverished college student who (through no fault of her own) is isolated from most of her family, but in spite of being alone, is determined to live a meaningful life. She loves the woods, but trees seem to take on life in mysterious ways. She is frightened by her second sight abilities that give her a strange connection to something outside of the realm of the natural, yet she continues to be drawn to nature where she finds solace as well as terror.
April Rue is invited to her estranged Granny Cinders' farm in the Ozarks. Here she experiences a strong sense of connection, and forms a warm relationship with her grandmother, who is wise and welcoming. Together they enjoy the simplicity of country life: "Early morning was the best time to gather the plump blackberries, before the sun got too high and the summer heat had a chance to roll in and cook anyone still out snagged in the berry thickets" (Kindle location 1902-7). Granny also teaches her the importance of protection from evil powers as well as to trust in her abilities to discern the world of the supernatural.
Her special powers though have a purpose--it is she who must save the land from a ruthless developer, Trevor Dalton. He intends to dam rivers and drive out residents who have been in the Ozarks for generations, many of whom are aware spirits abound. April Rue, in a vision, "watched in disbelief as the beautiful old apple orchard was leveled...as bulldozers and backhoes dug out great pits and moved earth and trees alike out of the way"( Location 1751-56).
I would recommend this book to all who enjoy supernatural fantasy, all who care about the environment, and anyone who wants to read a story they'll have trouble putting down. I read the book twice. Even though I knew what was going to happen during the second reading, I still couldn't get enough.
Incidentally, I thoroughly enjoyed Lee's next Ozark book, Some Cost a Passing Bell
April has never known her mother’s family for her father forbade them to have any contact with her after her mother died. So she’s lived a lonely life with only her father for company. Soon after he dies she heads off to collage to study folklore a lifelong passion of hers. Soon she finds her true calling is photography and thru this passion her special talent shows her a world filled with the most magical things.
After her father’s death she meets her grandmother and all the other relatives she had never known until now. Summers are now spent at her grandmother’s in the Ozark hills of Blackburn County, Arkansas. A place of magic and beauty that fascinates April and fills her with peace and contentment.
Soon this place of beauty becomes one of fear and terror. A developer has come in to claim the land as his own. He wants to destroy it’s beauty with bulldozers, chainsaws and drive it’s people, who have live here for generations, off the land so that he can build a retreat for the wealthy to his own specifications.
But first he has to deal with April Rue Stoner which may not be as easy as he thinks. For she has the help of friends, family and a magical ability even she doesn’t know the full depths of.
Lee Barwood has written an absolutely fabulous ecological fantasy novel that will take your breath away. She is able to bring to life thru words a world that is magically beautiful and fragile at the same time. Her descriptions of the Ozark hills of Blackburn County, Arkansas are truly breathtaking giving an insight into the beautiful sights, smells and sounds of the Ozark hills. She brings to the reader a true sense of appreciation of the natural world that lives just outside the front door.
The dialogue is spot on, her descriptions bring the world alive in front of your eyes and her characters are rich, full of depth and alive in the truest sense of the word. Throughout all this runs a plot that will have you cheering for April Rue from beginning to end. A story full of sorrow, pain, hope and beauty from an author whom I hope we will be reading more from sooner rather than later.