Written by: Matt Molgaard
Volume two of Glenn Rolfe’s serial shocker, The Haunted Halls is one of those stories that leaves you pinned to an invisible wall of indecision. There are some fantastic elements brewing in the second piece of this ongoing tale. Rolfe tells it with a load of passion and a fair offering from his inner poet. However, he also seems to get a little lazy in spots, and ultimately introduces so many characters that it becomes a genuine task just keeping track of who is who.
The Bruton Inn, which we came to know a bit of in the previous Haunted Halls installment, plays host to a wildly evil individual known as the Ice Queen. This nasty creature rounds up a group of savages to aid her in her evil bidding. They turn this place into an absolute nightmare resort. Volume 2 is fun, and fast paced, just as the introduction to this story was, but as I already noted, there are a few moments in which Rolfe’s work feels a little rushed, and uninspired. Small issues present themselves, and they’re issues that really shouldn’t exist. Rolfe is already a bit too good to allow himself to get lazy. The tools required to be a stellar author are present, if Glenn blows that gift with lazy work… well, he’ll only be shooting himself in the foot, and depriving fans of something potentially special.
Just to clear it up, let me point out a quick little tidbit that misses the mark, just so you’ll have some idea of where I’m coming from. Here’s a research detail that was fumbled… or simply not researched at all. During a shift in the story’s timeline, readers are transported back to 1983; at one point a character makes a comment about seeing A Nightmare on Elm Street. A Nightmare on Elm Street wasn’t released until winter of 1984. Is that lack of attention to detail detrimental to this piece? Not entirely, but it is a botched fact, and as a diehard fan of good fiction, I don’t appreciate botched facts, and I expect authors to do the proper research prior to putting the keyboard to use. There are a few little tweaks that could have been made to ensure a more accurate read, and I think it would have elevated this piece as a whole.
Before I get to the good, let me obliterate the remaining criticism I have for Glenn. There are too many characters in this story to properly follow. If just a few of the personalities introduced in this second offering are quickly eliminated, we’ll be set, as readers. As it stands, the story becomes a tad murky, and the threat of disinterest begins to set in. It’s better to know three characters intimately, than know not even enough to care about one of say, eight or nine different individuals. This is a tale that stands to resonate, as long as the characters can breathe in our minds. It may well be Rolfe’s design to eliminate a handful of these players soon and I think it would be wise, as I believe that decision will most likely lead to a closer connection with the story and its prominent players.
Now here’s the really interesting kicker: I still really, really like this series. Something about it still pulls at me. I like Rolfe’s style. He’s got some genius moments of description, and he’s got a very relatable style, loaded with contemporary and vintage pop culture references. Plowing through the man’s work is no challenge whatsoever, because there’s a unique warmth in his fiction. It’s that warmth that has me convinced this guy could be a true great in the future. Glenn has a knack for telling a story, and it reads reasonably natural, even now, at this early stage of his career in which he’s still got plenty of cracks to seal up. The guy just has big potential, and I feel The Haunted Halls is a great opportunity to take his prose to the next level.
I’ll be around to witness that potential grow and blossom. Glenn’s a prospect in this business, and he’s earning watchful eyes. If he follows his heart as well as the advice of his followers and critics, he’s going to be something special.
Oh and just for the record, for anyone reading this thinking wow he’s really nitpicking this one, that’s because Glenn and I do plenty of work together, we know each other well enough, and I know that he knows I’m only out to try and tell him what I can to ensure he works to be the finest author he can be. As George Bush would say, I am not a hater!
Pick up the second installment of The Haunted Halls right here.