William Meikle’s new novel, The Hole, published by Dark Fuse, manages to mix some of our moderns concerns with very ancient horrors. The residents of a small American town begin to experience a hum that causes an epidemic of nosebleeds and headaches. What appears to be a minor phenomenon quickly reveals more immediate concerns. None more so than when the history of their town trembles beneath their footfalls and rips through everything they’ve ever known.
The Hole is reminiscent of below the surface novels such as Robert McCammon’s ‘Stinger’ and Stephen King’s ‘Tommyknockers’. Meikle gives the reader something more however. The ensemble of characters we’re introduced to feel so real that I often felt voyeuristic watching them trying to survive their crumbing lives.
We have the new doctor who escaped the violence of the big city, her clandestine lover, the friendly sheriff ‘Big Bill’. Fred and Charlie, the pair of town drunks are like whiskey soaked bookends at each end of life. Then we have the town harridan who crumbles the group’s plans to outwit the rigid protocols of the federal army. The final piece of the character jigsaw is Sarah the farm girl they rescue that somehow gels the group together. These could so easily have been lazy crayon stick figures, but Meikle’s skill is such that he delivers nothing but richly drawn characters for us to follow.
The journey on which we accompany them is a twisting and winding spectacular. I won’t say rollercoaster as I don’t want to give theme park designers any crazy ideas about building The Hole ride experience any time soon.
Joking aside the novel does touch upon some uncomfortable realities. When I started reading the book the TV news reported scuffles between the police and those protesting against fracking in the UK. Something the protesters fear could cause similar ground tearing as in the plot of The Hole. That’s not to mention the frightening phenomenon of sink holes appearing around the world. Maybe William Meikle has tapped into the ecological zeitgeist, or maybe this is an ancient fear that hums inside us all. With the townsfolk’s mistrust of FEMA, the CDC or any federal agency, we can also connect with the strange times in which we live. In this world of Snowden and Prism, paranoia is no longer brushed aside as conspiracy theory. These aspects enriched the novel and made it feel all too real.
I won’t say much about why the monsters come out to play in The Hole, that’s a surprise worth waiting for. I do think Meikle treated the paranormal cast from ghosts to UFOs and even spectral bears with a greater understanding of horror than Cabin in the Woods achieved however.
The Hole is a page turner, or a Kindle clicker, and a fantastic read. It may take your mind to disaster movies of the past, but it’s so much better than that. It’s a story of how people from the different scales of life react when everything they’ve known is suddenly, and quite literally, pulled from under their feet. Talking of movies I would love to see The Hole adapted for the big screen. I’ve got my popcorn on standby just in case.
William Meikle should be a household name if this is the sort of rip roaring story he produces. I’ve no doubt The Hole, which is yet another quality release from Dark Fuse, will be a big success for this talented author. Be sure to check it out, you won’t be disappointed.