Short Take: “The Hole,” William Meikle

Pros: Captivating tale of destruction!
Cons: Two of the female characters
Rating: 4 out of 5

William Meikle’s The Hole introduces us to a small town that’s about to deal with a big disaster. Residents, including 20-year-old drunkard Fred Grant, hear a mysterious hum and have headaches and nosebleeds–Doctor Janet Dickson’s office is overwhelmed with patients the next morning. A hole opens up in the earth, draining away an entire large pond–and it doesn’t stop growing. Mysterious bodies are found, but they dissolve in the sunlight, and different people see them as different things–Sheriff Bill Wozniak sees demons, while Janet sees aliens. Soon Bill and Janet, with help from Fred and a few others, are trying to evacuate the town before everything goes to hell. They’re going to find that harder than they think, however–and the holes and the creatures are not their only obstacles.

Normally Meikle has few but good female characters. In this one, Janet is an excellent character with plenty of strength and independence, but Tricia reads like a stereotypical men-writing-women entry (all sexpot and a little crazy). [Spoiler warning: Also, nasty old bat Ellen Simmons seems like an annoying-but-good character up until she suffers from the “all she needs is a good kiss from a strong man” trope.]

The unfolding story is fascinating. What are the creatures? Where do they come from? Do they want to communicate or just destroy? How can our heroes stop them from ruining the town? There’s a tie-in to some of Meikle’s cosmic horror stories, and I love little ties like that. It won’t in any way detract if you haven’t read his other books. The stakes go up and up, starting with just a couple of people trying not to get killed and working up to whole bus-loads of townsfolk trying to escape the disaster. This tale is definitely worth a read!

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