Primary Genre(s): Horror, Fantasy, Humor
Published: 6 October 2020 by Gallery/Saga Press
Page count: 352 (paperback)
My Format: eBook via NetGalley
Do I Recommend: Maybe
Commission Link (U.S.): Buy The Hollow Places
My rating: ★★☆☆☆
Pray they are hungry.
Kara finds these words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring the peculiar bunker—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more you fear them, the stronger they become.
A short story, The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, inspired the author to write this book. Here are my pros and cons for The Hollow Places:
- This story started out with a bang! I was immediately engrossed in the story and interested in figuring out what in the world was going on.
- There were definitely some creepy scenes (the bus comes to mind) and I felt the world-building was creative and interesting.
- I felt like this story had elements of Stranger Things (Netflix series), Vivarium (movie), and Narnia (movie), among others.
- The odd attempt at humor throughout this book kind of ruined it for me. And it was frequently inappropriate humor at inappropriate times. I understand that that humor is sometimes used to deflate a tense situation, but it just didn’t work for me in this story.
- The story included sexual references, race references, and religious insults that weren’t germane to the story. I personally found them to be quite off-putting.
- Kara was kind of clueless. I mean seriously, how many times does a character need to have hints about what is going on practically smack her in the face before she understands? Ugh!
- The first half of the book was a unique adventure. The characters were exploring this strange world, getting into danger, getting scared… it was great. Then the second half of the book became reading about reading about a story. The narrative literally switches from an action novel to scenes were Kara sits in a room reading about someone else’s experience in the other world (as noted in the margins of a Bible she found). I am not a fan of that method of telling a story in general, and in this case, I feel like it brought the story to a grinding halt.
This book started out so well, but then it started to flip-flop way too much between oddly disturbing and mildly scary to cartoonish and absurd… and I started to lose interest. The non-stop snarky comedy element ultimately ruined the book for me. Perhaps if I had not anticipated a horror novel I would have felt differently, because I wouldn’t classify this a horror. Science fiction or fantasy or even humor? Yes, but it isn’t really horror in my opinion.
After reading this book, I decided I had to read The Willows (the author’s inspiration for this story according to the end notes) for myself. The Willows was incredibly engaging and extraordinarily scary. I really liked it. I am sorry to say, however, that while The Hollow Places had a lot of the same elements in the story (unusual otters, veils between worlds, strange boatmen, weird noises, unseen dangers, unsettling vibrations, mind-reading, disturbing holes, etc.) the end result was not the same at all. I enjoyed the original much more than this contemporary homage/retelling.
Thank you NetGalley and Gallery/Saga Press for a free eARC of this book, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The Hollow Places. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
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