Enchanting and deliciously dark.
Despite being an avid reader, I rarely come across a book that I literally cannot put down, but House of Hollow manages to suck you in from the very first page, dragging you through all the glamour, mystery, and horror before spitting you out at the other end. Young adult stories are typically fairly fast-paced, but this book is relentless, and as intoxicating as the Hollow sisters themselves.
Iris Hollow is the youngest of three sisters, famous for disappearing without a trace when they were children, only to reappear a month later with no memory of what happened to them. Stranger still, shortly after they returned, their hair turned white and their eyes black. Weird things happen around them, and people tend to find them intoxicating to the point of madness. Iris simply longs for a normal life, but normal seems impossible. Then when her oldest sister, Grey, goes missing, things become weirder still. It’s time for Iris to finally discover what really happened when she was seven.
Krystal Sutherland’s writing is airtight, saying exactly what needs to be said with the perfect amount of words. It is never waffly, yet it also doesn’t leave you wanting in terms of description. The dialogue is believable, with each character’s voice unique without becoming a caricature.
The story is not only about the grey area between life and death, and why these girls are so unusual, but it is ultimately a story of the unbending loyalty these sisters have for each other, and the extreme lengths they will go to in order to protect one another.
The fantasy elements draw loosely on the concept of changelings in Celtic folklore, with some Neil Gaiman-esque elements of the afterlife/spiritual world thrown in for good measure. With a touch of gore and horror, this book leans toward the dark fantasy genre, and more squeamish readers may not find this appealing. Lovers of young adult fantasy, the works of Neil Gaiman and other similar authors will find House of Hollow enchanting and deliciously dark.
Reviewed by Kristin Stefanoff
Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: 30 March 2021