When I saw that the cover of this book features a giant axe, I was hoping I knew what the title of this murder mystery refers to. Holly is a retelling of (or at least inspired by) the fourteenth-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. If you haven’t read it, don’t worry: there is plenty else going on in this story.
First and foremost, Holly is a mystery. The young, inexperienced Detective Pike discovers there is more to her hometown of Ash Falls than she realized after she is assigned to new case with experienced partner Detective McDonagh. Aime does a great job of making this feel like a thoroughly modern story even though it deals with old subject matter – and some very old characters. He blends all kinds of magic – the old and subtle kind, vampires, and werewolves – with a classic hunt for a serial killer in a small town surrounded by deep Oregon forest. I appreciate that the main character, Lydia Pike, is queer, and the nods to the queer subtext in the original poem. It is a fun (and spooky!), fast read that made me always wonder what was going to happen next. That is the joy of a fresh retelling – even though you know the story, you have no idea how it is going to end this time.
I would recommend Holly to anyone who likes murder mysteries, urban fantasy, or the occasional Arthurian story.
Originally posted on Goodreads on Oct. 20, 2019