Hi friends! I received this book from Gallery Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book has already been published, so you can read it now if you’re interested! Although I received this book for free, all thoughts and feedback are my own.
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
The Hollow Places is T. Kingfisher’s follow standalone to her debut novel, The Twisted Ones. Kara is living at her uncle’s house after her divorce, helping to run his business, the quirky Wonder Museum. One day, she discovers a hole in the museum wall that leads…elsewhere. A place with willow trees and bunkers on mounded islands and creatures that grow stronger the more you think about them.
This book was really as much as I could ever hope a horror novel to be. I’ve never been truly frightened or scared by a novel but this one kept me engrossed and fascinated while not wanting to be up reading it too too late at night. I wasn’t super impressed with Kingfisher’s first novel, but she really stepped it up here and I’m excited to see more from her in the future.
I think this is the scariest novel I’ve read since I finished The Silent Companions early in October, and I attribute that to the well-executed blended styles of horror found within the novel. Most of the horror I read tends to be either atmospheric or graphic; I enjoy both but find that there are surprisingly few instances where a novel combines the two. This one does and does it well. The environments are creepy and well-described and many of the horrifying elements are scary because of the fear of the unknown. There are also more vivid descriptions of more gory/unpleasant imagery which I think was effective in grounding the reader. I wouldn’t classify this novel as fantasy (although Goodreads would say otherwise), but I could easily see how this book could come off as less scary if all of the horror elements were too far separated from reality; thus, these more gritty and descriptive events made the horror feel more tangible.
I was perfectly content with a number of aspects of this book that I don’t feel the need to dive into but will list briefly here. I enjoyed the characters and their development, although limited. I enjoyed the writing style, as it was easy to digest while not being overly plain or telling. I liked that the ending wasn’t overly explained or wrapped up (because that would have been impossible). Really, I enjoyed most of the elements of this book.
There are really only two elements of this book that prevented me from giving it a full five stars. The first of these is the slight drop in pace in the middle of the novel in between the two major horror events. I was reading this on my Kindle and didn’t really know how far through the book I was, so when the first encounter with the ‘hollow place’ was over, I honestly thought that was the end of the novel. But it just kept going, and going, and going. Eventually, the pace and tension picked back up again, but the juxtaposition of the high-intensity horror and the slower recovery scenes was a bit too jarring for my taste and made those pages difficult to get through.
I also thought the ending was slightly over-explained. I see this as being something where other readers could disagree with me, because *recurring theme* I love ambiguous endings. There doesn’t have to be a reason for why the creepy shit is happening, especially if this book is largely labeled as fantasy horror. I think the attempted description could have definitely been worse, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of how it was executed and think it should have been left out altogether. The explanation left room for plot holes and confusion that would not have been present otherwise, and overall I think it weakened the horror of ‘not knowing’ that was so prevalent in the rest of the plot.
Rating & Final Thoughts
I’m so happy I can start this month off by rating The Hollow Places 4 out of 5 stars! This is a great, creepy read I’d recommend for all fans of horror – I really do feel like it has something for everyone! I believe this book was far scarier and more fast-paced than Kingfisher’s debut; what a great trajectory to be on. I’m so excited to add another author onto my auto-buy list, especially a horror author! Absolutely would recommend.
Buy The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher here.*
*as a reminder, I am an Amazon affiliate and make a small commission off of purchases made using my link.