The Hollow Places

Saga: S. & S. Oct. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781534451124. pap. $16.99. HORROR
Inspired by Algernon Blackwood’s “The Willows,” a story that terrified H.P. Lovecraft, Kingfisher (The Twisted Ones) crafts an original homage. Kara is sad, confused, and listless when she returns to help her Uncle Earl run his Wonder Museum after the dissolution of her marriage. She finds peace surrounded by the macabre and eccentric items, as it is the only place she has ever felt truly safe and happy. But while Earl is away recovering from knee surgery, Kara and her neighbor, Simon, find a portal to another world in the back of the museum, a nefarious Narnia where murderous willows rule that they cannot escape. This is an imaginative, intense, cinematic story filled with regret, madness, and an overdue coming of age. It overflows with tension, but the sweet and amusing friendship between Kara and Simon provides necessary moments of respite, allowing both readers and Kara to breathe and find the best resolution.
VERDICT This unsettling, character-driven story of a young woman in search of herself reads like a darker, more macabre version of Alice in Wonderland, keeping readers turning the pages long after dark. Suggest with confidence to fans of Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy or Zoje Stage’s Wonderland.
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