Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Writing: 5/5 Entertainment: 5/5 World Building: 5/5
“Rarity from the Hollow” is a daring, unique, and fascinating read that attempts to focus on serious real-world issues through a zany sci-fi adventure. It’s written well enough to be called literary fiction and creative enough to grab the intention of seasoned and new speculative fiction fans alike.
Lacy Dawn lives in a small town called The Hollow in West Virginia where life is bleak. Abused at home and alone after her best friend is killed by her father, Lacy Dawn’s one comfort comes from Dotcom, an ancient android sent to earth thousands of years ago. With Dotcom’s help, Lacy Dawn forms a plan to heal her family and give them a brighter future. In exchange, Dotcom wants her to save the world.
I can’t praise Robert Eggleton enough. I read an earlier edition of “Rarity” about a year ago. While it had it’s problems, I thought it was still great. Eggleton took all that great stuff, added some more, tweaked the weak areas, and created something truly fantastic.
The writing is still brilliant. It feels timeless, classic and mature in a way that would ensure its longevity if more people knew about it. I would even say it could be read in a college setting both for the craft itself and its unique brand of storytelling. The premise is brilliant and brought a distinctive approach to the adult-fairytale/modern-retelling sub-genre, and the story balances.
“Rarity” reminds me of Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” mixed with Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” and Eggleton has convinced me that such radically different story-telling styles can not only co-exist in a single book, but can actually play off each other brilliantly if balanced correctly. The believable struggle and darkness of the Hollow breaks your heart while the outlandish solutions to Lacy Dawn’s problems feel not only believable (by some stroke of genius on Eggleton’s part), but deserved and bright. In addition to being an expertly crafted story, “Rarity” did something that most pop fiction doesn’t usually do:
It made me ask questions, both as a a writer and a reader.
I’ve never forgotten the questions I pondered when first reading “Rarity” and I greatly appreciated seeing them still present in this updated version. If anything, the updates made me explore the questions more. What literary and plot elements work when discussing difficult topics in science-fiction? What elements don’t? Why is that? What do we expect from protagonists in bad situations, especially children? Are those expectations fair? Are there limits on who gets redemption arcs? What does that mean for how we view unkind, even abusive, people in real life? What really makes a fairy tale “adult?” Is it merely facing darker, grittier events, or is it the themes behind them? The fact that I was constantly questioning myself as both a consumer and producer of fiction as I read is what really makes me want to suggest this book.
If you like challenging books, questions, and a lot of zaniness, “Rarity from the Hollow” is definitely worth a read. Also, the author dedicates his proceeds to the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, so even you end up not liking the book itself, it would still be a worthwhile purchase.
TRIGGER WARNING: As much as I encourage others to read this book, the depictions of spousal and child abuse could potentially bring up potentially harmful memories and feelings for some people. Reader’s discretion is advised.