“I was ten years old the first time I realized I was strange,” ~ Krystal Sutherland
House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
Published by Putnam, 2021
Genre: Young Adult, fantasy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: Even though there’s an element of mystery to the plot, it’s atmospheric enough that people might enjoy it a second time, despite knowing all the twists and turns.
Reviewed by Indiana
Synopsis from the publisher:
Seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow has always been strange. Something happened to her and her two older sisters when they were children, something they can’t quite remember but that left each of them with an identical half-moon scar at the base of their throats.
Iris has spent most of her teenage years trying to avoid the weirdness that sticks to her like tar. But when her eldest sister, Grey, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, Iris learns just how weird her life can get: horned men start shadowing her, a corpse falls out of her sister’s ceiling, and ugly, impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind.
As Iris retraces Grey’s last known footsteps and follows the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs she left behind, it becomes apparent that the only way to save her sister is to decipher the mystery of what happened to them as children.
The closer Iris gets to the truth, the closer she comes to understanding that the answer is dark and dangerous – and that Grey has been keeping a terrible secret from her for years.
Throughout the bulk of the novel, House of Hollow has a gently hair-raising and immersive atmosphere. The relationships between Iris, Vivi, and Grey are convincingly twisted and unraveling the mystery behind their disappearance is a fun, mostly satisfying ride, even as the plot dips into more of the horror genre.
The main sticking point for me was the pacing. Considering the book is less than 300 pages long, it seemed odd that it took the characters 200-odd pages to get to the Halfway (a liminal place between life and death), which is initially mentioned in the first 100 or so pages.
Other than that, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Sutherland’s writing is splendidly eerie and while the fantastical elements aren’t always explained, I was happy to go along for the ride.