Review: House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

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.

Title: House of Hollow
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
Representation: Bisexual main character, lesbian main character, Korean side character
Trigger Warnings: Blood and mentions of blood, physical violence, police and mentions of police, stalking, smoking, occult, attempted murder, mentions of kidnapping, knives, guns & gunfire, mentions of drugs, mentions of alcoholism, insects, mentions of mental illness and hospitalization, manipulation, mentions of bullying (prologue), mentioned death of a parent (chapter 1), mentioned death of family members (car accident, chapter 1), mentions of still born child birth (chapter 1), catcalling (chapter 1, chapter 2), mentions of sexual assault (chapter 2, chapter 15 – on page), harry potter mention (chapter 3), mentions of underage drinking (chapter 3), mentioned suicide (chapter 7, chapter 15), description of suicide, (chapter 14), detailed description of a dead body (chapter 8), fire (chapter 8), murder (on page)
Rating:  ★★★★★

On New Year’s Day, 10 years ago on a quiet street in Edinburgh, the Hollow sisters, Grey (11), Vivi (9) and Iris (7) went missing. Parents, Cate and Gabe, did everything in their power to find their daughters but no leads were made. Then, a month later, all three girls showed up in the exact same spot that they were taken from, naked, with nothing but an antique hunting knife and half moon scars at the base of their throats. Now, 10 years later, a lot has changed. Grey is an international super model and clothing designer. Vivi’s in a band, touring around the world and spending her time with beautiful women. Iris? Well, she just wants to finish high school and move on with her life. If only it were that simple. As the 10 year anniversary of their disappearance looms and Grey and Vivi are scheduled to come back to town, odd things begin happening. Iris notices a strange man following her, and when Grey doesn’t meet up with Vivi and Iris like she was supposed to, the middle and youngest Hollow sisters begin to worry. Iris and Vivi team up with Grey’s boyfriend, Tyler, to try to find her but they end up learning haunting things about their pasts that they couldn’t have expected.

If I had to describe House of Hollow in one word it would be unsettling. Reminiscent of Grimm fairy tales, stories of folklore and mythology, House of Hollow blends the beautiful and the dark to create a story that is hauntingly enchanting and leaves the reader craving more. As we know, I love mysteries, and the mystery of what happened to the Hollow sisters 10 years earlier was one that I needed to solve.

From the first page I was immediately drawn into this dark and mysterious world of the Hollow sisters. This story is so atmospheric. The writing was beautifully rich and detailed, it draws you in immediately. This book is simply difficult to put down. Sutherland transports you into a world that is mysterious and terrifying and ethereal and beautiful all rolled into one. 

“People told us as children, told our parents, how exquisite we were. The way they said it, it sounded like a warning – which, I supposed, it was.”

Throughout the story, we see how the Hollow sisters are able to control anyone they please with a simple kiss or whispered words. People fall under their spell and are not let go until the Hollow sisters decide their done with them, and that is how I felt while reading this book. All three of the Hollow sisters were well developed and complex. They had distinctly different personalities and strengths, they also continued to develop as the story went on. 

Another character that I loved was Grey’s boyfriend, Tyler. At first, I was not a fan. I found him annoying and honestly a bit suspicious. But as the story goes on, we start to see the parts of his personality that he keeps hidden from the world. By the end of the book I absolutely love him, and he became one of my favorite characters. He also brought some really great comic moments that helped lighten some of the dark and heavy material but didn’t derail anything or come off as frivolous. 

House of Hollow explorers family dynamics and questions just how far you’re willing to go for the people you love. The Hollow sisters go to extreme lengths to protect one another and they often make choices that make you question their morality. They’re not the only characters to do this though. All the characters are morally grey, which adds to the dark atmosphere of the story. You never know who is telling the truth or what their ulterior motives are. 

I don’t want to give any spoilers, because the ending really was done so well, but I will say that the mystery reveal flowed seamlessly. As you’re reading the book, it kind of feels as though everything is a little fuzzy. You have the pieces of the story you need to follow along, and you know that there’s something missing but you can’t tell what it is. As the story continues, it becomes clearer. Then as the last piece of the puzzle is put into place the whole picture comes into full focus. There were so many times during the book where I found myself saying, “what does this mean? I know it’s important, but I can’t tell how!” and then at the end it all made sense. It was so satisfying.  

House of Hollow is a book that I will not only be thinking about for quite some time, but is also one that I’m sure I’ll return to many times. I fell under the spell of the Hollow sisters, and I know they’ll bring me back time and time again. 

Links for House of Hollow: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

Krystal Sutherland is an internationally published author. Her 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 (Euphoria); 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. Her next novel for young adults, House of Hollow, is set for publication by Penguin in spring 2021.

Follow Krystal: Website | Twitter | Instagram

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