Hell Cat of the Holt is the third story in Mark Cassell’s Shadow Fabric series. Although not a full novel, this novella expands upon the multi-dimensional lore the author began in his first two books in the trilogy, 2014’s The Shadow Fabric and 2017’s The Shadow Fabric Mythos: Vol. 1. Readers will be thrilled to find that the story of Leo, the resilient protagonist from the first book, is continued in Hell Cat of the Holt, although the main character of the story is forgetful accountant Anne, one of Leo’s neighbors. The UK author has created a world – well, more than one – where the face of evil is not always clear and every shadow hides immanent danger.
The official synopsis:
Shy accountant Anne returns to the village of Mabley Holt to piece together her life after a family tragedy. When her cat vanishes, and a neighbour claims to speak with his dead wife, she soon learns there’s more to the village than any resident dares admit. In search of her beloved pet, she discovers not only family secrets but also revelations of a local legend.
As she treads an unsteady path between folklore and fact, her confidence in where she grew up begins to crumble … Into hell.
Hell Cat of the Holt is many things. It is a ghost story, a multi-dimensional horror, an urban legend and a tale of witches. The occult vibe is strong but is equally balanced by the Lovecraftian mythos that makes up the main arc of the story. Cassell is a strong author who dives deep into his imagination to find some horrible, disgusting and truly terrifying imagery. The giant cat legend is not a new one, but this story gives the oft told tale more depth and a reason for why this creature roams the earth. I personally read the entire 179 page story in one sitting, from the heartbreaking tale of Anne’s grandparents to the final confrontation with what Cassell calls The Construct.. The action never let up and the air of mystery surrounding Anne, Leo and the black cat kept me transfixed from beginning to end.
The novella is now available through Amazon in both print and Kindle versions. You don’t have to start with The Shadow Fabric, although things will probably make a lot more sense if you read the books in order.