Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

I don’t like horror. I never wanted to watch scary movies as a kid. I got nightmares from E.T. I never saw anything with Freddy or Jason. So I would never ordinarily have been on the lookout for a book like The Holllow Places by T. Kingfisher, except for the fact that T. Kingfisher is also Ursula Vernon. Ms. Vernon is the author of the Hamster Princess books, which my daughter enjoys, and is a delight on Twitter (I highly recommend her thread explaining what happens when she tried the Ancient Greek method of using pottery shards in place of toilet paper). Furthermore, I recall Seanan McGuire effusively praising last year’s Kingfisher horror novel, The Twisted Ones so much that I just had to buy it ( but have not read yet). In addition, her novella Minor Mage was absolutely delightful and I cannot recommend it enough. So I decided to be brave and request an eARC of The Hollow Places. And I am SO glad that I did. The Hollow Places was fantastic. The protagonist is a recent divorcée who moves in with her uncle into a room in his tiny small town museum of taxidermy and oddities. There she and the barista next door find a portal to another world, a terrifying place of willows that are not quite willows. The characters are amazingly detailed and feel so real and the fantastical elements impinge on the story so gradually that you never lose your suspension of misbelief. The mysteries are meaty and satisfying, though the final reveal felt a little out of left field. Only a little though - the wackiness of the museum of oddities setting did help sell it. It worked in the context mostly, but it was the only  weak point in an otherwise excellent novel. I’m so glad I read this book! Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher!

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