The Hollow Places (Book Review)
by T. Kingfisher
5 / 5 Stars
I listened to this book on Audible and I must say that the narrator, Hilary Huber, was fantastic. Her voice was a perfect match for the main character.
The Hollow Places is a fresh, funny, and engrossing horror.
The story follows Kara as she returns home to live and work in her uncle’s weird tourist trap of a store called The Wonder Museum. It’s filled with oddities from all over the world, including lots of taxidermies. After settling into routine, Kara stumbles across a hole in one of the walls, which leads … somewhere else. With her friend Simon in toe, Kara stumbles into a horrific mystery and might not make her way out.
The Hollow Places is a lot of fun! Normally I have trouble identifying with “everyday” women in stories. I’m not sure why, perhaps because I sometimes find the characters too generic (so to please everyone) or they are modelled after women who just aren’t like me (aka, a weird nerd). But I liked Kara - I could see myself being friends with her. Perhaps because she accepts her faults and flaws and just goes with it, as well as having a bit of quirkiness to her that makes her realistic. She has this self-deprecating sense of humour that is relatable and not pathetic. The other character, Simon, was also fun and likeable - reminded me of David from Schitt’s Creek (for numerous reasons, but mainly his deep sarcasm). The two played off one another really well and had an easy friendship that was believable. There really isn’t anyone else in this novel, aside from a man named Martin Sterdivant. He has one of the creepiest moments of the story and he's kind of amazing.
This novel is funny. Like really really funny. I laughed out loud numerous times while listening, and this is where I really wish I had read the book because then I could provide some examples. I was not expecting this from a horror novel. The horror aspects weren’t that scary, but I was fine with that. What I loved was the mystery and the tone surrounding the “hollow place”. If you’ve read House of Leaves there’s a serious vibe from that going on at first, then it spawns into something different. There are mysteries - some of which are resolved at the end, some are not - and a twist that you kind of start guessing halfway through but aren’t sure why. And then when it happens, it’s not really what you expect.
At a couple of points, the story started to drag for a little bit, but it wasn’t egregious and the story soon ramped up again. I was never confused and I loved the setting (both the Wonder Museum and the Willow World).
It’s a book that I would buy to have in paperback if I ever stumbled across it used somewhere (like a weird antique store, perhaps?). I really enjoyed it and would pick up another by Kingfisher.