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.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

House of Hollow is a gothic book, through and through. It’s not a mystery, though mysterious events occur. It’s a dark gothic novel with bits of horror mixed in. Think of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the movie or the book, if it were written and directed by Hans Christian Andersen. Iris Hollow is 17. When she was young, she and her two sisters went missing around Christmas time. They were there one minute, then their mother looked away then back again and they were gone. No trace. When the sisters finally reappear near their house one day years later, no one can explain how they went missing or how they returned, not even the girls themselves. Such is the lore of the Hollow house. Now, Iris’s older sister Grey is missing again, and strange yet familiar things start happening. Iris knows Grey is hiding something, but first Iris has to find her.

This book was great because even though it had a fairy tale quality, it contained a lot of information and lore-building that was completely new to me. The story felt original, new, exciting. I kept thinking I had a handle on what was happening and then, bam!, Sutherland would hit me with another twist. This is a great book to read if you’re a fan of Holly Black, or if you read Stephen Graham Jones’s The Only Good Indians and were obsessed with Elk Head Woman. It’s got Native lore and Asian mythology elements that fuse into this world that’s reminiscent of a story you know but with an extra twist.

It’s hard to get into details without giving away spoilers, but the girls’ disappearance isn’t due to a normal kidnapping or natural occurrence. Instead, it’s got elements of the otherworldly, folklore and fairy tales and old myths and legends that spool together to keep you guessing until the very end of the book about what exactly happened to these three girls when they were children.

Iris is a likeable character, and both of her sisters are intriguing characters as well. Their parents and the story of what the children-go-missing fiasco does to them and their marriage feels simultaneously painfully real and believable while also having that eerie and uncanny aspect that encompasses this whole novel. This book is dark and twisty and it gave me the shivers so many times in a way that not many other horror books I’ve read recently have managed to do. It’s a great autumn read to add to your TBR, and it’s perfect spooky season fodder to scratch that horror itch.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

PUBLICATION DEETS: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, April 6, 2021, 304 pages

CATEGORIES: YA, gothic, horror

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