Hi friends! I’m here to share my thoughts on a book that shocked me in both the best and worst possible ways.
A huge thank you to Penguin Teen for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
TW/CW: murder, death, grief, sexual assault, death of a child, suicide
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.
House of Hollow is genuinely the most haunting, darkly beguiling, compulsively unsettling book I’ve ever read. It’s a story of sisterhood and empowering women, while also being a story of monsters and terrible things that happen in the night. We follow the first-person perspective of Iris Hollow as she tries to pretend that her life is normal, that there is no mystery surrounding her or her sisters. However, when her oldest sister goes missing, it’s up to Iris and her middle sister Vivi to find her.
The author has a lush, atmospheric writing style that created vivid pictures in my head (for better or for worse). The entire story is a dreamy nightmare that you can’t help but consume as quickly as possible. Its weirdness only escalates the farther you go. I loved it*.
*sometimes i think that i’m too slytherin for my own good
There were times when I was reading this when I had to take a break because I was getting too creeped out. To be fair, I was reading it in the dark (on my phone) so that probably didn’t help. But that’s one of the things I appreciated most about this book: it didn’t pull punches just because it was a YA book. There were parts that were shockingly dark and twisted, moments that cannot be described as anything but breathless horror. However, this is also a book about family and sisters and love and being a girl in a world that can hurt girls so very easily.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. Would it be magical realism trying too hard? Would it be a confusing mix of supernatural and normal thriller elements? In the end, this truly felt like a cult classic horror fairy-tale. Every story beat is brilliantly plotted, as we go from slightly creepy to downright horrifying. Even the cover takes on a new meaning after finishing the book, for as good as the build-up to the climax is…the ending takes the cake. I didn’t guess the plot twists fully, although I saw hints of them coming. But gosh dang was the ending done well.
I can say with certainty that this is the best horror book I’ve ever read. I don’t want to give too much away because this is something that simply needs to be experienced. I loved the complexity of every single character, and the web of relationships tying them together. My one complaint is the treatment of a certain POC character. The ending leaves things a bit ambiguous in that regard but still.
So that’s it! I’d be surprised if this isn’t one of the standout books of the year, because it is that good. Overall, this is a solid 4.5/5 stars. Talk to me below!