T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places is not a sequel to The Twisted Ones, and it’s kinda-sorta not even a “spiritual sequel.”

Like, okay, yes, it is about a big-city woman going out to a rural area, and then encountering increasingly-less-subtle signs that Something Horrifying And Weird Is Happening; and yes, it does involve a kind of explicitly fantasy-style world-building underlying all the horror. So they’re not completely different. But whereas The Twisted Ones is Lovecraftian, this feels like something else altogether. And having written that, I thought to myself, “okay, I bet it actually is inspired by some weird 1920s thing I never read and didn’t recognize, let me google this.” And according to Google, it’s apparently inspired by a work written by some guy named Algernon Blackwood. I’ve never heard of him, so have no idea how well this captures that classic Blackwoodian flavor, but yeah, it’s definitely not Lovecraftian.

One other thing this does have in common with The Twisted Ones, though, is that as the book goes on, the horror gets explained and transmutes gradually into just being a kind of vaguely-grim fantasy novel. It seems to me that it’s very hard to keep the horror atmosphere intact through revelation and explanation—Mexican Gothic is one of the few successful examples of that—but even accounting for that, this one shifts from horror to fantasy more quickly than I was expecting. Which is fine in theory, but as a fantasy, it’s a bit silly in concept; it really relies on the horror to carry you through some of the more absurd world-building, like a haunted house that’s creepy in the dark but just looks cheap with the lights on.

Still, Kingfisher largely makes it work, on the strength of an engaging protagonist and keeping the lights out for at least the first third of the book. Recommended.


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