Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Last of the Albatwitches is a collection of two short novellas from writer Brian Keene. Both stories in the collection, “The Witching Tree” and “Last of the Albatwitches,” are linked thematically. They involve ex-Amish magician Levi Stoltzfus after the events portrayed in A Gathering of Crows. A Gathering of Crows is part of the Dark Hollow franchise which also includes the novels Dark Hollow and Ghost Walk.
Stoltzfus is your modern day Solomon Kane or Abraham Van Helsing. He is a good guy looking to protect the uninformed masses from otherworldly horrors. To do this, Levi Stoltzfus practices a sort of magic known as powwow. This magic has served him well. It has allowed him to best the servants of demonic entities known as “the thirteen,” on several occasions. However, in Last of the Albatwitches, he will find his magic begin to fail him. His prayers to God go unanswered. Is there something amiss in Heaven?
In the short story, “The Witching Tree,” Stoltzfus contends with a demonic oak. While in “Last of the Albatwitches,” the magician has his hands full with a carnivorous cryptid ape from the earlier novel, Castaways. Interestingly, Castaways had never been acknowledged as taking place in the Dark Hollow world until now. The second short story ties these things together quite explicitly and ends with Stoltzfus embarking on a search for answers.
While both stories are well written, the absence of answers makes Last of the Albatwitches feel more like a teaser for the next novel rather than a standalone entry in the franchise. At this time, two more books are planned. Invisible Monsters is expected out later in 2015 and Bad Ground is planned for some time in 2017. Until then, the fate of Levi Stoltzfus remains unresolved.