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The Mystery of Hollow Places

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,861 ratings  ·  375 reviews
All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when Imogene was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “trouble ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Balzer & Bray
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  1,861 ratings  ·  375 reviews

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Emily May
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
There’s a reason for everything, if you look hard enough. An answer for every mystery.

The Mystery of Hollow Places is a strange book. It's a psychological mystery written with an artistic flair - by that, I do not mean the prose is purplish, but that it is built up around carefully-woven metaphors for mental illness and depression. I liked Podos's style very much.

The book's opening chapter hooked me instantly. We hear of the bedtime story that Imogene was told by her father, a tale perhaps t
Also on

There is a glowing foreword by a HarperCollins' executive editor on the arc that I received. He says that I have in my hands the debut novel of a phenomenally talented writer. That this book is deep, literary, sophisticated exploration of teen identity wrapped in the tropes and structure of a classic mystery novel. Sounds delightful right? I truly wish it was.

Imogene's father is missing. He apparently just walked out in the middle of the night and was never heard or seen again. Imogen
Aly (In Wonderland)
This review is now live on 100% Rock Magazine!

As long as you don’t turn the last page in a book, you get to believe whatever you want to believe. You can have faith the good guys will win, the clearly identifiable bad guys will lose, and everyone will go home and eat Spicy Italians on flatbread on their cheerfully dumpy living room sofa.
I’m not living a sunshiny state of delusion. I know this is real life, not some story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie or Rex Stout. Whatever
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Quietly powerful and deeply moving, The Mystery Of Hollow Places deals with mental illness, child abandonment, strained family relationships and recognizing what matters most in our lives. It's not an edge-of-your-seat mystery and it's not a thriller - not by a long shot - but it's an excellent psychological drama and a skillfully constructed puzzle. Slow-moving, but insightful and illuminating. Messy and wildly emotional.

"I could forgive my mother for being cursed, and lonely, and troubled w
Sarah Elizabeth
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“One night, my mother left us, taking a suitcase, no money, and half of the heart with her. She sent the divorce papers through a process server a little while later.”

This was an interesting mystery story about a girl searching for her missing father.

Imogene was a likeable character in this story, and it was unfortunate that after having her mother leave her as a
Ashley Blake
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is gorgeous, wise, emotional, & messy. The voice is all at once authentically teenage girl & vulnerable & brave. It's not an easy book, but a beautiful one & that's even better. Put this on your TBRs, because this book shows us that answers are rarely simple, rarely easy, but love can exists in between all that, and that choices are powerful. And I think we all need that reminder from time to time. ...more
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-lit
“This happened, he knew from his school days; with enough time and the right conditions, precious stones could grow in hollow places.”

This is a story about a 17 year old girl named Imogene, whose father has gone missing. Imogene's dad is a succesful mystery writter who also happens to have bipolar disorder. "Im" is particularly attached to him because her mother left them when she was only two.

She is convinced that her father left her all the clues that she needs to find him, and she's also
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

The opening chapter of The Mystery of Hollow Places promises a story filled with paranormal mysteries and excitement. It’s one of the best prologues I’ve read in a while and it easily made me want to read the rest in one sitting. I adore atmospheric, creepy mysteries, and I was hoping this would be one. The rest of the book, however, continued in a very different tone.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy what came after. Mostly I liked it because of Imogene Scott, a main character that carries t
Rhea Dsouza
Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Mystery And Thrills
There are quite literally, a BUTT LOAD of things I loved about this book. You a Mystery fan? Duuuude, do you need this book in your life. Like to see teenagers in sticky situations? Bruh, I found what you want to read. Drama? Coming of Age? Either? Both? Look no further. This book has it all and more.

The Mystery of Hollow Places begins with distraught teen Imogene Scott searching for her missing father, medical mystery writer Joshua Zhi Scott. Joshua, as Imogene describes, is a recluse, and
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it
The Mystery of Hollow Places is a beautifully written novel, beginning with an eerie story Imogene's father tells her about her mother.

“The bedtime story my dad used to tell me began with my grandmother’s body.”

Even though it's been years since Imogene's mother left when her daughter was very young, Imogene and her father are still coping with their grief. The absence of Imogene's mother was obviously jarring and traumatic on her dad - he took to drinking and became quite depressed. Then one
Laurie Flynn
I was immediately intrigued by this book when I read the synopsis, and when I saw the cover, my intrigue turned into a full-blown need to devour the book. And from the first page, THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES had my complete attention.

This book is unlike any other I’ve read, and is difficult to classify. It’s intense and psychological and literary, a mystery and a contemporary coming-of-age story rolled into one. It’s about coming to terms with the past and accepting that the future is both unc
S.M. Parker
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Mystery of Hollow Places is one of the best YA novels I have ever read. From the voice to the brilliant and flawed main character (and her journey), I could not put this book down. This debut novel by Rebecca Podos has a lot of precise and precious things to say about mental health, forgiveness and identity. To say I loved this book would be a huge understatement. Podos has joined the ranks of insta-buy authors for me and I'm already eager to see what she writes next. No, not eager. I'm impa ...more
Jan 17, 2016 rated it liked it



This book wasn't bad, but it didn't blow my socks off either. It has tons of promise. The premise was enough for me to buy the story. The execution of it though, plus the revelation towards the end, was not really my cup of tea.


Mysterious disappearances

A stone heart

Ambiguous clues to the past

Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love-love-love this book. Since finishing it, I've fallen into a spiral of endlessly tweeting about it. The writing is gorgeous: it's so clean, clear, concise but still unique, voicey, vivid. The characters are fully fleshed out and multi-faceted. No one is caricatured; everyone is nuanced. The best characters, in my opinion, were the ones that sneaked (ugh, I that this is a word) up on me. Lindy and Jessa were definitely my favorites, though Immy, her father, and Chadwick were all fantastic t ...more
Melissa Gorzelanczyk
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
**To view the original post click here!**

Book cover: The frosty borders of this cover are just stunning - they set the stage for a chilly theme that frames the two mysterious silhouettes perfectly.

But the pièce de résistance of this cover has to be its title. The Mystery of Hollow Places is along the lines of winning titles like The Fault in Our Stars, All The Bright Places, and An Ember in the Ashes. Titles like these hint at the story's main concepts, whilst simultaneously planting seeds of c
Adriana Mather
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is deliciously written. Podos' prose is strong and thoroughly engaging. Imogene Scott (love that name!) is a high school senior whose mother abandoned her at two years of age and whose author father has been writing mysteries throughout her life. When her father also vanishes suddenly, leaving her alone with her stepmother, she puts all of the sleuthing techniques she picked up from reading her father's books to good use: she sets out to solve the mystery of his disappearance and bring ...more
Sarah Glenn Marsh
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this even more than I'd anticipated, coming from reading almost exclusively in SFF! I think YA as a whole can always use more books centered around family, and this family tale is a gorgeous blend of genres with a captivating plot and narrator.

Full review to come, but I wanted to jot down my thoughts as soon as I finished it! Highly recommended!
May 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Imogene has grown up without a mother and has so many questions. Where is she? What is she like? Why did she leave? When her father goes missing, Imogene feels like she needs to find him, so she sets off to do just that. A good mystery, but it was slow until the last 85 pages or so.
Renee Godding
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

I am so sad about this one. Based on the synopsis, the theme and the author I was expecting this to be at least a four star read for me. It was not.

I think the main problem was the fact that I did not care for or identify with Imogene at all. She just felt very juvenile to me. I constantly had to remind myself that she was supposed to be SEVENTEEN, not 12. Seventeen-year-old-me would not have been able to relate to her at all... Maybe 13-year-old-me, but definitely not 17-y
Jenn Bishop
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When Imogene's father, the author of forensic mysteries, goes missing, Imogene thinks she knows where to find him. Using what she's learned from reading his books (and other beloved mysteries), she strikes off with her best friend Jessa and Jessa's brother (who, okay, she *might* have a longtime crush on) to find her long-lost mother, convinced her dad has gone off in search of her.

Both a compelling mystery and a powerfully honest exploration of mental illness, this novel is exquisitely written.
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
This review was originally posted on It Starts at Midnight
The premise of the story is about Imogene, and the fact that her dad has left home with no indication of where he is going, when he'll be back, or if she and her stepmom should be worried sick, which of course, they are. Her stepmom calls the police because she is normal, but Imogene thinks that she will know better where her father is- and suspects it has something to do with her birth mother and the mysterious circumstances that her le
Joce (squibblesreads)
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars

The Mystery of Hollow Places was a (at the risk of sounding hipster) quirky, whimsical mystery. It centers around Imogene and the search for her father who has disappeared. Her father Joshua used to work in forensics and met Imogene's birth mom when she came in to identify the body of her own mother. Imogene's birth mom left them shortly thereafter and her father remarried Lindy, a family counselor. Joshua is now a best-selling author of crime fiction. Imogene herself is passionate abo
Sep 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-star
The Mystery of Hollow Places is a good book, but not much more than that. In a lot of ways it’s a solid contemporary novel, but completely unremarkable and I honestly doubt I’ll remember it a month from now. I’m not saying it isn’t worth a read, because it definitely is, but I wouldn’t expect to be blown out of the waters.

I do want to take a moment to acknowledge that this is a debut! I think sometimes reviewers can forget when they’re reading someone’s first novel. Sometimes I think it is bette
Hannah (jellicoereads)
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Now THIS is how you do a YA mystery. It’s not a crime-thriller-murder-type mystery – more of a quieter, but no less fascinating tale of one girl’s search for her missing parents.

You get older, and you make your choices, and one by one the doors shut.

Firstly, the writing is so refreshing and just drew me in. I was scrolling through some of my eARCs, looking for something to catch my attention – and catch it this book did – hook, line and sinker.

Secondly, I adore the practicalities that are outli
Jaime Arkin
Imogene Scott doesn’t remember much about her mother, other than the stories her father has told her. She left when Imogene was young, so growing up she had only her father who not unlike her mother had issues of his own. Now at the age of seventeen, her father, a famous author who writes medical mysteries, has gone missing. Her stepmother and the police have no clues where he might be but Imogene is convinced that he’s left her clues about how to find him and they all revolve around her mother ...more
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
I loved the synopsis to this, so I was eager to get into the mystery. Sadly, it was not even close to what I was expecting.

I liked Imogene well enough. She's smart and quite good at figuring out the most obscure "clues", but she's also kind of an asshole to the people who care about her. Other than Imogene's BFF, Jessa, {who I really liked}, there weren't too many characters we really got to know. Everyone was portrayed as a stepping stone to get Imogene answers.

The reveal wasn't as shocking a
An intriguing coming of age mystery.

The Mystery of Hollow Places is the story of teenager Imogene Scott as she tries to find her father who disappeared mysteriously. During her investigations, Imogene learns more about her mother who had left Imogene and her father many years earlier.

While the story didn't seem that realistic to me - personally, I can't see a teenager driving around in winter bad weather all over the state with limited funds - I did enjoy Imogene's relationship with her best fr
Oct 06, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm really torn on this one.
On one hand, this was a wonderful character driven story. I loved Imogene and just how driven and yet aimless she was. Imogene is struggling. Her dad has just gone missing and she's left with her stepmom. Imogene's mom left when she was little and she's never known her.

But her father left her a clue. A clue to a puzzle that Imogene knows only she can decipher.

I did really like Imogene with all her flaws and insecurities. She was a great character to read about and I
Jen Ryland
I really enjoyed this - it's not so much a traditional mystery as one of those books that show you that people and their choices are sometimes the greatest mystery of all. It also had a strong emphasis on family and friendship. I loved the authentic-sounding voice and the fact that main character Imogene is a fan of mysteries -- Rebecca in particular, which seemed to have (sort of) inspired this book. But not in the literal way that most Rebecca retellings choose.
More coherent review to come!

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Rebecca Podos' debut novel, THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES, was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a B&N Best YA Book of 2016. Her second book, LIKE WATER, won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Children's and Young Adult. THE WISE AND THE WICKED, her third novel, was recently released. Her forthcoming books include FOOLS IN LOVE (Running Press Kids, 2021) a co-edited YA anthology with autho ...more

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