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.
A massive thank you to Hot Key Books YA for sending me an arc of this book – super grateful to be part of their ambassador programme.
House of Hollow is at turns delightfully dark and creepy, captivating in its intensity and captures the feeling of a lush, heady and disturbing fairytale for the modern age. I can’t get over how much I loved this book guys, and that cover? how stunning is it, like honestly A+, credit to the artist Aykut Aydoğdu for their work because they did an amazing job!
I loved the concept of this novel from the moment I read the synopsis, I was so intrigued to find out what happened to Grey, Vivi and Iris as children and the fallout of that one event and how it impacts their lives up till the point we meet them. I had suspicions about what happened but oh my, as the story moves along it just gets even more twisted and it’s so well executed. The pacing is fantastic right from the offset and I was drawn in right from the first paragraph. Krystal Sutherland weaves together the contemporary elements with the folklore and fantasy so well, I would actually go as far to say it’s masterful work.
The writing throughout the book is consistently lush and evocative, threaded together so wonderfully. I intend to go back and re-read this just to soak in the prose – it’s lovely without being overly bogged down, and every word feels pivotal and enriches the story. Not to sound like I’m in an English Lit class right now writing an analytical essay or something but the imagery and repeated motifs throughout the novel are just so good – especially seeing how the natural world, flowers and insects and rot and dirt, just all of it is so richly described and written.
I also enjoyed the three main characters; Iris, Grey & Vivi so much. They were all so different yet there’s this intense, indescribable connection which they share which is honestly so interesting to read about. Iris is our protagonist, whose point of view we read through for the entirety of the novel – she’s the youngest sibling and is more introverted and bookish, whereas Vivi and Grey are a rockstar and a famous fashion designer / model respectively. The sisters are all ethereal and beautiful in an eery way and they all seem to have strange influence and power over the people they meet, leading to some scary scenarios. While her sisters enthral people, Iris has a decidedly different effect – sometimes leading to strange bouts of violence.
As you continue reading and get to know more about the Hollow sisters and bits and pieces of their backstory get revealed, the feeling of foreboding just grows and grows to a fever pitch but I couldn’t put it down. I had certain suspicions about the direction the novel might take, and even though some of my predictions were on the right track, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the novel one bit. Sutherland is an expert at the slow burn, teasing and dropping breadcrumbs and clues right until the satisfying if slightly bittersweet ending. Rest assured, no spoilers here because this is a book you’ll want to go in with no idea about the climax!
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I can’t speak any more highly of it – if you’re into contemporaries with a touch of fantasy and a darker, spine chilling edge then this is one you won’t want to miss.
Until next time,