Valley of the Scarecrow by Gord Rollo; Dark Regions Press; 2010; 236 pgs; $50.00 US

Valley of the Scarecrow was one of the books in the pipeline at Leisure when it underwent its reorganization. Published by Leisure/Dorchester as an e-book, it is now available from Dark regions Press in a handsome limited edition.

Seventy-five years ago, the Reverend Joshua Miller brought peace and prosperity to a small town in Iowa at a price: his soul and the souls of his followers. Through a deal he made with the Man in Black (not Johnny Cash), the town of Oak Valley enjoyed bountiful crops while neighboring towns suffered. Not all the parishioners were under his spell however, and a group of them rose up and crucified him on the altar of his church. The church was sealed with Reverend Miller’s body inside, and stayed that way until a group of young people, including the grand-daughter of the ringleader of those who crucified him, came in search of the treasure legend said was interred with him. What they didn’t know was the evil preacher could not truly die, and hung waiting to be freed from his cross to seek revenge.

It’s an interesting premise, but the book is slow to get going. The scarecrow doesn’t make it down from his perch until page 139; and the young treasure hunters aren’t interesting enough in and of themselves to keep the story moving until the Big Bad arrives. Perhaps the story would have been better served if it had been cut to novella length. The romantic entanglements of the younger characters are somewhat flat, and their dialogue is a bit stilted. They also use strange colloquialisms for Iowans, phrases like “nasty bugger”, “bloody hell”, and having a “bit of breakie.” Perhaps they all watched a lot of BBCAmerica.

All in all, a disappointing outing from one of the more popular authors of the small press.

Feb 28, 2011

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