Book Review

House Of Hollow

House of Hollow

  • Author: Krystal Sutherland
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: April 6, 2021
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

CONTENT WARNING: blood, bullying, mental illness, suicide, death, gore, sexual assault, alcoholism, drug use, vomit, violence, death or a child

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Iris Hollow and her two older sisters are unquestionably strange. As children, they disappeared on a Scottish city street only to return a month later with no memory of what had happened to them or where they’d been. More troubling, their appearance began to change: their blue eyes now black, their dark hair now white. And as they grew older, odd, eerie occurrences seemed to follow in their wake. People find them disturbingly intoxicating, unbearably beautiful, and inexplicably dangerous.

Now seventeen-year-old Iris is doing all she can to fit in and graduate high school on time—something her two famous, glamorous, globe-trotting older sisters, Grey and Vivi, never managed to do. But when Grey goes missing, leaving behind bizarre clues as to her whereabouts, Iris and Vivi are left to find her—but they aren’t the only ones looking. As they brush against the supernatural, Iris quickly realizes that the story she’s been told about their past is unraveling and the world that returned them seemingly unharmed ten years ago might just be calling them back again. 

Darkly seductive, this twisty modern-day fairy tale by critically acclaimed author Krystal Sutherland is a gripping and terrifying journey. Readers will not be able to look away.

This was one of those books that I wanted to read as soon as it came up on my radar, but I couldn’t get an ARC so I had to wait until I could get a library loan. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. It was part deliciously creepy, part horrifyingly gory, mostly engrossing mystery, and a fully sensory experience. Krystal Sutherland stimulated each sense, which is an incredible talent to find in a book. I was hooked right from the first page to the very last.

Each of the three Hollow sisters are very different, yet extremely intertwined. I’m glad that it was told from the POV of Iris, as she was the sister I found it easiest to identify and empathize with. She strives to live as close to a normal life as possible, even when it is blatantly obvious that she won’t ever be able to live a normal life. She lives in a codependent relationship with her mother, but her loyalty to her sisters makes it difficult to reconcile the two warring sides of her life. But when Grey goes missing, she drops everything to work with Vivi and find her. However, she realizes that the dynamic between she and Vivi has changed without Grey’s influence and the role that she plays:

“Grey was the grounding force in our sisterhood, the sun we both orbited around. What would Vivi and I be without her? Would we drift apart in the cavernous space Grey left behind, rogue planets spun out into the abyss? Would I lose both of my sisters at once?”

As family secrets are revealed slowly, both past and present-day, I couldn’t wait to find out more. The story skirts the line between fantasy, fairy tale, and borderline horror, but I was so intrigued by the way everything unfolded. In addition, it talks about the very real effects on a family that traumatic events can have. The parents of the girls were deeply affected by the events of a decade ago, while the girls cope differently. 

“My mother was crying. It was not a new sound. It had been the backing track for much of my life. The house moaning in the wind and beneath it, my mother crying.”

The mystery of their disappearance is unraveled, as they try to find Grey. And as I was trying to answer all the questions that kept popping up, the story just kept moving quickly. The pace was fast throughout the story, and I got the feeling that there were multiple layers to the story. While I don’t tend to reread a lot of books, there are some that just require multiple read throughs, because you just know you’ll pick up more each time. This is one of them. 

“‘You are like the death flowers that grow rampant in your wake: lovely to look at, intoxicating even, but get too close and you will soon learn that there is something rank beneath. That’s what beauty often is, in nature. A warning. A disguise. Do you understand?’”

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 12

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