Be ye warned, if you’ve not read Guardian or Labyrinth, there may be slight spoilerishness ahead…
The thing I’m loving about the Creepy Hollow novelette series is that they’re written to be very much like a serialized television drama. And indeed, ringing in at about 60 pages, it’s very near the length of an hour long TV episode. I’ve been incredibly impressed thus far at how Morgan has heightened the tension and suspense gradually through each novelette – complicating and weaving her story arcs throughout each, slowly revealing how characters are connected to one another or that they might have deeper connections than first suspected, revealing bits of the world through further exposure to it, giving answers while at the same time deepening the mystery. Morgan’s an author who’s truly excellent at pacing stories of this length. It’s a delicate balance between giving the story just enough depth and development while still keeping it short and thrilling, and all in all, she does a wonderful job. It truly feels like reading each of her novelettes is akin to watching an exciting episode of a must “DVR-or-die” TV show where the drama keeps compounding, creating a larger story through all of the smaller ones.
In Traitor, we’re granted a rare glimpse of what Violet’s normal day-to-day looks like as a Guardian trainee. Previously, we’ve only seen Violet in the midst of highly abnormal situations, but seeing how she reacts with her fellow trainees and instructors just gives up more clues to the puzzle of who Violet is and why she is the way she is. I love watching her interact with Nate too – this boy who’s opened up a part of her closed-off heart that she didn’t know, or perhaps forgot, existed. She’s such a tough, kick-butt character, but knowing Nate – sweet, normal Nate – has allowed her to admit some of her vulnerabilities at least to herself, if not actually to him. She’s complicated and a bit of a mystery herself, and I love that while she is unraveling the larger enigmas of the plot, we the reader get to slowly unravel just who Violet is.
In this installment, we also see the continuation of the larger story arc with Nate’s origins and the appearance of the strange tattoo. Traumatized by the events in the labyrinth, Nate shuts down whenever Violet tries to broach the topic of his strange disappearance during their narrow escape from the magical maze or when she tries to discuss the topic of how he got his mysterious tattoo and what it might mean. Not easily dissuaded and more than a little concerned about this boy she’s allowed herself to care for, Vi is determined to discover the answers to all of those questions and ventures off on her own to unravel the mystery. But as is often the case with mysteries, answers uncovered tend to unearth even more unsettling and shocking questions.
Overall, the most compelling Creepy Hollow novelette yet, Traitor raises the stakes, deepens the mystery, and ultimately left me exclaiming, “What just happened?!” July, and the release of the fourth novelette, cannot come soon enough.