Sisters and Creepy Forests: My House of Hollow Review

 Don't mind me, I'm just emerging from a gross yet beautiful swamp filled with white flowers, moss, and lots of dead things. The book that transported me there was House of Hollow, a dark, twisted upcoming YA book by Krystal Sutherland. I decided to take a chance at requesting the ARC because I thought it looked interesting, and boy, was that a good decision!

Book Title: House of Hollow
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Publisher/Year: Putnam, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Number of Pages (According to Goodreads): 352
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Book description (from Goodreads):

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.

From the very first page, I knew this book was going to be one of my favorite reads of the year so far. Turns out, I was right! I loved getting to know Iris, her sisters, and the strange world that springs up around them.

Everything Here is Gross but I Love It

The writing is lyrical and gorgeous, but straightforward enough that I didn't feel bogged down in descriptions or weird metaphors. Every turn of phrase created an overall atmosphere of dread, death, and rot that I totally loved even as I became more and more unsettled. 

I've never been a huge fan of straight-up horror, but the horror elements worked really well for me here. Yes, there are some gross parts, but I thought there was a great balance between the fear factor and the emotional resonance of the story. It definitely gave me Wilder Girls vibes in terms of how the horror elements were handled (I mean, both stories even have creepy flowers and shrubbery growing out of everything), and I really liked that book so this was a win for me!

Mmmm, Mystery!

I love any book with a strong mystery thread, and this one had me whizzing through the pages to find answers to the strange goings-on. There were a couple of twists that I did NOT see coming at all! Everything felt pretty nicely wrapped up by the end, but I appreciated that a few of the answers weren't completely handed to me on a silver platter, because I liked the lingering air of mystery at the novel's conclusion.

Part of what made the mystery so great was the character of Grey, the main character's older sister who mysteriously vanishes toward the start of the story. It was so cool getting to know more about Grey's mystique -- and, of course, the secrets that she's hiding from her sisters!

Trigger and Content Warnings for House of Hollow

This book may not be for you if you're sensitive to discussions/depictions of blood, gore, body horror, violence, guns, death of a parent, suicide, loss of a child, kidnapping/abduction, attempted sexual assault.

Final Thoughts

While this book probably isn't for people who are particularly squeamish, I thoroughly enjoyed it even as someone who doesn't really read horror. Overall, anyone looking for a dark, gripping, atmospheric read reminiscent of Wilder Girls should definitely check this one out!

Thanks to Penguin Teen for the e-ARC! House of Hollow comes out on April 6th, so check out the links below if you want to snag your own copy:

Barnes and Noble | | Amazon | Goodreads

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