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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

The Hollow Places, T. Kingfisher: A Review

4 huge stars. When I saw the cover and read the blurb for this book, I knew I had to request. I've heard nothing but good things about T. Kingfisher's writing, and I was thrilled to dive into this one.

Semi-mourning her divorce, Kara is trying to adjust to her new life as a single woman staying at her uncle's taxidermy shop and "Wonder Museum." She strikes up a friendship with Simon, a barista/waiter at the cafe next door, and everything is moving along, until Kara finds a hole in the wall of the museum. Instead of insulation and studs, they find a bunker. Inside the bunker, a body. And beyond that, another world. Maybe more than one. The Willows are everywhere, and the further they go, the more dangerous it becomes. What is this place? Where is this place? And who--or what--are the Willows? Oh, there is so much I loved about this book. Kingfisher's handling of the space beyond the bunker was magnificent. The details were gruesome. Visceral. Eerie. Horrifying. Lovecraftian horror isn't my favorite, but this really hit the mark for me. The beings or lack there of--I could've read about them all day. The world-building was graphic and visual, drawing from the senses to establish a clear picture. I was engrossed in the in-between space. I liked the characters. Kara was relatable and harmless; Simon, equally so. Their friendship was fun and reflected the changes Kara needed in her life. I found them to be a bit flat and sometimes stereotypical. I am a firm believer in sarcasm and witty exchanges between friends, but at times, it felt overkill and predictable. I can see where others might really like their dynamic, though, so I understand this is a matter of personal preference. I also thought the conclusion felt rushed. I'm all for ambiguity--even depressing endings. I didn't mind so much the direction Kingfisher went, but it could've been expounded in a bit more depth to match the pacing of the rest of the story. The final few pages were my least favorite overall, but that's not to say the ending won't be a slam dunk for others. Overall, The Hollow Places is a terrifying descent into the unknown, and for Lovecraftian horror fans or anyone who's interested in other worlds or unidentifiable creatures, this will be the book for you. Thank you to Gallery and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.


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