Book Review: The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

If there’s a way into hell, someone will find it.


Pray they are hungry.

Kara finds these words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring the peculiar bunker—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more you fear them, the stronger they become.

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My Thoughts

I started this book a year ago, I wasn’t pulled in and put it aside. After finishing Wehrwolf, I was itching for more horror. Like Wehrwolf, I listened to The Hollow Places on Audible. I highly recommend the audiobook version. The Hollow Places takes a few chapters to get going, but then it is a wonderful slow burn until all of a sudden the line between reality and an alternative universe overlap. Kingfisher’s use of modern references make The Hollow Places make the story feel as if this could happen in any small town, in an oddities shop across the world. Any one of us could venture too far into the attic, basement, or closet and stumble into a nightmare Narnia type world in which universes overlap and living things are rearranged into nearly piled stacks of bones.

The Hollow Places is not the most terrifying book I have read, but it was deeply unsettling. I cannot stress that enough. If you give yourself time to reflect on what is unfolding, the plot and “evil things” of this books is unsettling. There is something icky about the horrors of a universe seeping into your universe, your nightmares, controlling your body without a clear purpose. You won’t find ghosts, goblins, or ghouls in The Hollow Places–instead Kingfisher invites you to explore an enchanting land designed to rearrange your insides…which might be worse. Kingfisher introduces you to gross once human beings, who that will leave you wondering the exact details of their once human bodies. As well as a light that gives life and huge creatures that stalk throughout the waters honing in on those who think thoughts about them, again what Kara and Simon discover in this land of empty bunkers might be worse than a haunted house. I had questions such as: was that man really playing with his intestines? Did they really drink that water?

Kara and her friend Simon venture throughout this strange place of bunkers at first to see what they have discovered, of course the exploration does not go as planned and they are lost in the alternate universe. They discover many things, once of which is a bible from another universe that details another parties travels within the alternate universe. The bible contained a soldier’s journal entries, and they were one of my favorite things about this book. My only complaint is the lack of explanation of what exactly is going on in the alternate universe. You do not need to know that exact detail to enjoy the story. Not knowing adds to the unsettling feeling induce by The Hollow Places.

Overall I enjoyed The Hollow Places. Kingfisher has a unique voice that allows you to laugh with and at the characters as she builds suspense of an approaching monster. I am excited to read more of her work. If you are looking for an introduction to horror, start here. While the story is incredibly unsettling and at times strange, it is not riddled with spooks or gore.

Should you read The Hollow Places?

The Hollow Places is a unsettling novel that I think would make for a great read on a rainy day. Consider adding it to your fall/Halloween reading list.

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