Full disclosure – I was provided a copy of this book by the author however have voluntarily chosen to write a review.
A snarky little satire
“Hallow Mass” takes the fictional setting of H.P Lovecraft’s short “The Dunwich Horror” and expands on it, bringing the setting, inhabitants and history into the present. The campus of Miskatonic University, where most of the action takes place, is a caricature of what current academia has become. The campus is a politically correct morass of “safe spaces”, “underserved groups”, “microagression studies”, “diversity enforcement” and all manner of ridiculousness masquerading as enlightenment. In the midst of all of this is Mercy O’Connor, student and curator of the special collections section of the University Library’s Antiquities section. Recently the Antiquities section and its chairman have come under fire regarding the presence of an ancient book. The Necronomicon is one of many books kept under lock and key in the Special Collections section, and with good reason. Should this ancient tome fall into the wrong hands, it may be used as part of a larger ceremony to basically bring about the end of the Earth. When protests mount to give the book back to the residents of Dunwich as a gesture of tolerance and inclusion of their unorthodox cultish religion, Mercy and library security Joe B are the only people standing in their way. Mercy’s meager knowledge of formula may not be enough to keep the residents of Dunwich from sending the Earth into oblivion, but she is going to try.
As I read through Hallow Mass, the term “horror novel” didn’t really come to mind, but that could also be because I have read a great many horror stories in my time. For me, Hallow Mass was more of a dark satirical comedy with a bit of the occult thrown in. Mercy O’Connor struck me as a sort of a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer-esque” character (the movie version) in the sense that she is the reluctant hero of the story. The Party Girl turned savior of the Earth due to her family’s heritage and history with the creepy residents of Dunwich and previous horrors. This knowledge is the difference between Mercy ultimately blowing off her studies and sinking in to attempt to stop the madness from unfolding.
Overall I really enjoyed Hallow Mass and found myself laughing out loud at the antics of SLUG and other characters. The residents of Dunwich were sufficiently creepy and the final Hallow Mass ceremonies and subsequent battle was easy to imagine and left me wondering if this is the end of the threat for Mercy, or will she have to dig deep again next year to thwart another attempt to steal the Necronomicon. I, for one, will be booking my virtual stay at Ye Great Olde Inn to find out…. but I’ll take a pass on the tea.