Book Review | House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

TITLE: House of Hollow
AUTHOR: Krystal Sutherland
PAGE COUNT: 296 pages
PUBLISHER: Hot Key Books
GENRE: Fantasy, Horror, Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal

SYNOPSIS: 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.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

For my first fictional read of 2023, I decided to pick up the January book of the Hollows Book Club, as I have wanted to join for such a long time.

House of Hollow follows three sisters—Iris, Vivi and Grey—who, ever since they were children, grew up to be different. The protagonist, Iris, cannot remember anything from her childhood after a traumatic incident that happened to her and her sisters. When sinister things begin happening, Iris knows it is fatal to find the answers to her questions before losing everything she loves.

This book has been on my TBR since its release, and I am so happy to have finally gotten to it. I was intrigued from the first page and constantly wondered what would happen next. It has been a while since I read such a dark book, and I can understand why there are so many trigger warnings. I do not usually read books like this, but the story intrigued me.

The characters all have their good and bad qualities; this is a book where none are perfect. It is filled with dark secrets and gruesome truths, but a theme that is apparent is the strong bond and immense love between sisters. This book emphasises the darkness and light in a strong sister bond, showing the reader that a love like that can either make or break you.

However, from the middle of the book until the last few chapters, the story felt quite repetitive, and I found that my enjoyment was diminishing. It felt as if nothing was happening and as if the story would end up going nowhere. I considered giving the story three stars at that point, but the ending honestly made the story and tied everything together nicely.

In the end, I am glad I finally read it, and I cannot wait to discuss it for the Hollows Book Club! 

Dark, dangerous things happened around the Hollow sisters.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Strangeness only bred strangeness, and it felt dangerous to tempt fate, to invite in the darkness that seemed already naturally drawn to us.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, our parents would wake to check on us and find us huddled together in our pajamas, our heads pressed together like witches bent over a cauldron, whispering.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

For a long time, years, I couldn’t sleep deeply unless I felt the heartbeat of both my sisters thrumming beneath my fingers. But they had grown up and left home, and I’d realized there were scarier things in the world than the monsters that lived in my nightmares.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

“That’s a pretty heavy burden to bear, being everything for someone.”

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

“Some people go missing because they want to; some go missing because they’re taken. And then there are the others—those who go missing because they fall through a gap somewhere and can’t claw their way back.”

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

“Something happened to us when we were kids, Iris. Something no one has been able to explain. I’m starting to think we fell through.” “Fell through what?” I asked, but she was already striding away, toward the front door. “Vivi, fell through what?” My sister turned and took me by the shoulders, a half-mad smile on her face. “A crack in the world.”

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

“Sometimes madness is catching.”

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

“Why are you so beautiful, do you think? So hungry? So able to bend the wills of those around you? You are like the death flowers that grow rampant in your wake: lovely to look at, intoxicating even, but get too close and you will soon learn that there is something rank beneath. That’s what beauty often is, in nature. A warning. A disguise.”

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

“Tell me. Tell me the truth.” “Your life would be happier if you didn’t know.” “Knowledge is power.” “And ignorance is bliss.”

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Grey was a tornado in the form of a girl. She took what she wanted and left a trail of destruction in her wake, and I had always admired her for it. It took guts to be a girl in this world and live like that. She did it because she was powerful. She did it because she could.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

When she sucked in her next breath, it was the sound of a church organ: huge and long and mournful. Sobs shook her, bent her, broke her, until the despair left her spent. The most beautiful woman in the world, so used to the universe bending to her will, unable to save the life of the man she loved.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

We were sisters. We felt each other’s pain. We caused each other’s pain. We knew the smell of each other’s morning breath. We made each other cry. We made each other laugh. We got angry, pinched, kicked, screamed at each other. We kissed, on the forehead, nose on nose, butterfly eyelashes swept against cheeks. We wore each other’s clothes. We stole from each other, treasured objects hidden under pillows. We defended each other. We lied to each other. We pretended to be older people, other people. We played dress up. We spied on each other. We possessed each other like shiny things. We loved each other with potent, fervent fury. Animal fury. Monstrous fury. My sisters. My blood. My skin. What a gruesome bond we shared.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Krystal Sutherland is an internationally published author. Her latest novel for young adults, House of Hollow, was released by Penguin in April 2021. Sutherland’s first novel, Chemical Hearts, was published in over 20 countries and was named by the American Booksellers Association as one of the best debuts of 2016. The film adaptation, produced by Amazon Studios, stars Lili Reinhart (Riverdale) and Austin Abrams (Dash & Lily); Sutherland served as an executive producer on the project. Her second novel, A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares, was published to critical acclaim in 2017 and has been optioned for adaptation by Yellow Bird US. In 2018, she appeared on the annual Forbes “30 Under 30” list. Originally from Australia, she has lived on four continents and currently calls London home.

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