A dark, twisted fever dream of a read that oozes dangerous and wondrous things and drapes itself around you like magic.
One night, the young Hollow sisters vanish from a dark Edinburg street, right under their parents’ noses. A month later, the three reappear. The same, but different (other) — eyes turned black, brown hair turned to white-blond, bellies that can never be sated. Changes that could be (rationally) explained by trauma — a trauma they don’t remember. Still, an aura of otherness clings to the Hollows, a strange and uncanny power.
Now, ten years later, the eldest of the Hollows, Grey, is a supermodel and wildly successful fashion designer, middle sister, Vivi, plays in a punk band across Europe, while the youngest of the Hollows, Iris, still lives at home with mom, Cate. Iris wants nothing more than to be normal — to wipe every trace of the unnatural from her life. Until Grey disappears (off the face of the earth, it seems) and only Vivi and Iris (and their uncanniness) can find her.
From the get-go, it’s clear that things are far more twisted than even they at first appear. House of Hollow is a strange and wondrous story world. With a plot as layered as the secrets we find sown into gowns. Doors that once led somewhere now lead somewhere else. And, no, you should not (should never) enter (for you will not return). But our protagonist, Iris, must if she is to save her sister.
House of Hollow is a beautiful fever dream of a read. There is a tangible quality to the way Sutherland creates her setting. Her writing spools around your senses, adding to the overall sensation of being trapped in that place between waking and dream — or nightmare, because, yes, this book is dark. There is blood galore. Carrion flowers blossom from eyes. Ants escape scars. Despite its darkness, however, there is something indelibly comforting about this tale that deals with themes of loss and grief.
If I had to put this in a genre box (which is hard), I’d say modern fairytale with a strong magical realism vibe and a twist of horror. Rating wise? It doesn’t get much better than House of Hollow for me. Tens across the board.
Book: House of Hollow
Published: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: April 6th, 2021
Age Range: 14 – adult