The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
T. Kingfisher continues to delight with a horror entry that kept me from reading into the wee hours of the night... mainly because I was afraid a portal to a creepy, nightmare dimension would open up in my bedroom and let the roots in.
I first came across T. Kingfisher's books following a twitter suggestion from author Angela Boord (whose knockout novel Fortune's Fool is well worth your time) and proceeded to tear through Swordheart and Paladin's Grace at an embarrassingly swift pace. Both are lovely studies in romantic fantasy and laugh-out-loud funny, so I was not sure what to expect from a horror novel by the same author.
To be honest, I am a little mad at myself for doubting Kingfisher at all. The Hollow Places is a grab you by the collar rollercoaster of a read. Engaging, terrifying, and just as laugh-out-loud funny as her romance entries have proven to be. Moments of suspense are balanced with a necessary levity and humor that readers of Kingfisher have come to expect, and that readers of horror (or maybe just me as I am a wimp) need in order to sleep soundly at night.
Also, as a fellow North Carolinian, it was a treat to see small town NC represented in a contemporary SFF novel. That the author lives roughly an hour away from where I do made it all the more enjoyable to see how she portrayed our local area and the wonderful characters populating the pine woods and sandhills of central North Carolina.
~ On that note, dear Ms. Kingfisher, please do not be alarmed when a harried woman wearing a four month old baby wanders into your local coffee shop and stares at you awkwardly over her latte. It's just that I'm a fan and my formative years being raised in Los Angeles where sighting celebrities was a regular occurrence won't allow me to come bother you. Pay no attention to the fangirl in the corner ~
Now, I don't often read horror, perhaps once every 3-4 years do I dip a toe into that pool. It is certainly not with enough frequency to where I can be any sort of authority on literary nightmare fodder. It is usually when my brain is tired of wizards, dragons, plucky farm boys or determined YA heroines that I decide sleep isn't worth my time and I'd rather stay up all night with the flashlight app on my phone keeping the dark corners well illuminated. This is not to say I don't enjoy horror - for example, House of Leaves ranks as one of the best books I have ever read, while also holding a unique position on top of the list of Books I Will Never Read Again...
So it must be said: I am beyond glad I decided to spend that scant bit of horror energy on The Hollow Places. It is a fresh yet familiar take on portal fantasy and alternate realms. As always, Kingfisher writes with fluid, entertaining prose. Her characters are well-rounded, realistic and, in the case of The Hollow Places, fully aware of the tropes they represent and wholly reject.
A mixture of the Scream films and Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy, Hollow Places unfolds with the pace of a blockbuster summer movie - and considering the nationwide closure of movie theaters, this was an exceedingly welcome diversion from the repetitive nature of Sheltering in Place.
Pre-order The Hollow Places here.
Many thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, my midnight hours would be all the more boring without you.