Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Hollow Places

Rate this book
Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (2020)
A young woman discovers a strange portal in her uncle’s house, leading to madness and terror in this gripping new novel.

Pray they are hungry.

Kara finds these words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring the peculiar bunker—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more you fear them, the stronger they become.

341 pages, Paperback

First published October 6, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

T. Kingfisher

42 books7,831 followers
T. Kingfisher is the vaguely absurd pen-name of Ursula Vernon. In another life, she writes children's books and weird comics, and has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, and Ursa Major awards, as well as a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections.

This is the name she uses when writing things for grown-ups.

When she is not writing, she is probably out in the garden, trying to make eye contact with butterflies.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
6,029 (24%)
4 stars
9,901 (41%)
3 stars
5,970 (24%)
2 stars
1,774 (7%)
1 star
474 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,602 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,536 reviews9,777 followers
May 21, 2023
The Hollow Places is a super WEIRD, extremely well-written Horror story, penned in Kingfisher's signature quirky style.

It's hard to nail weird, yet she does, and we love to see it!

The humor and heart brought to her stories is refreshing in the Horror space.

If you haven't read anything by Kingfisher yet, in my opinion, The Hollow Places would be a great place to start.

With the low-key fangirling out of the way, let's get into the story, shall we?

Recently divorced, Kara, known as Carrot to her family and friends, returns to her beloved Uncle Earl's Museum of Wonders to live, lick her wounds and help him out.

The museum, think smaller version of Ripley's Believe It or Not, is her Uncle's pride and joy. He has spent years curating the various items, including a vast collection of taxidermy, and tends to it with extreme care.

Carrot's favorite piece is an elk head, known as Prince, which her Uncle has now placed in her room above the bed to make her feel more comfortable.

With Carrot around to help, Uncle Earl finally plans to have the knee surgeries he has been putting off.

As he heads off to hospital, Carrot falls into the groove of running the museum. Along with her cat, Beau, it begins to feel like home. She even kindles a friendship with Simon, the barista at the coffee shop next door.

After a tourist knocks a hole in the wall of the second floor of the museum, Carrot, definitely lacking the skills to repair such damage, enlists Simon's help.

As they peer through the hole, Carrot and Simon discover more than general building innards. They find a portal to another world.

More specifically, Narnia from hell. That's what they find, Narnia from HELL!!!

As anyone would, they go explore this unexpected world.

Let's call it the Willow World, scenes from which chilled me to the bone. I'm not really sure what it was about it. Just imagining myself being there, trapped there...

I refuse to tell you more, you will have to pick this one up and discover for yourself.

Kingfisher's writing is so much fun. Her characters are hilarious. As frightening as this got, there were still many, many times when I laughed out loud.

One of my favorite things about her writing is how real her characters seem; and how likable. They also don't magically turn into superheroes who can overcome all obstacles with grace and without breaking a sweat.

Carrot and Simon, although not helpless, were bumbling around trying to figure this out just like any regular, non-fictional person would.

I mean, unless you know how to defeat mysterious monsters and close the portal to hell before it swallows your entire town.

Maybe you do, who am I to judge?

In summation, as you can clearly tell, I want you to read this book.

I loved it and if you are into weird and scary things, I think you will too!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Gallery Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate it.

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it didn't disappoint for a second. I will read ANYTHING Kingfisher writes.

Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,194 reviews40.5k followers
May 6, 2022
This is something extremely dark, gory, twisted, inspired by H. P. Lovecraft’s story and I have to admit its dark humor and quirky, absurd characters acted like just left a Cohen Brothers movie fit interestingly well with its horrifying combination.

If you love the Twisted Ones, short stories of King, Lovecraft, Tremblay, this one is matched made in heaven with your dark, weird and nerdish soul!
There are two leading characters of the book carry the story from the beginning and making us get used to their antics, peculiar attitudes. Dear Kara and Simon.

Kara, newly divorced, penniless, losing her house, is forced to live with her mother who never stops talking. Her story starts like a surprisingly a romcom character. She gets an offer from his Uncle Earl who is owner of one of the weirdest museums of the earth: Natural Wonders, Curiosities and Taxidermy, located at Hog Chapel, North Carolina. He suffers from his bad knee and needs help in exchange of providing rent free life to Kara. She says okay without questioning because she cannot stand to live with her own mother and since her childhood, the museum has always being amazed her.

Kara’s cyber-stalking her ex and her inner monologues are entertaining at the beginning, using the coffee shop’s free WIFI, befriends Simon: queer, interesting taste of fashion, insisting he ate his twin in his mother’s womb and carries her eye which helps him have different kind views about the outer world. You may sense he is uniquely original and lovely kind of weird.

Then one day, Uncle Early leaves the museum for getting knee operation, is driven by Kara’s mom. Now she is alone in the place. It won’t be problem. She can handle it. Right? But wait for it… She finds a carved hole in the museum wall and asks Simon for help to patch it up but then they realize it’s not a regular carved wall. It’s a secret tunnel opens into other alternated universes. Two adventurers take their first step to find out where the tunnel takes them. But their curiosity may get them to the hollow places they’d never imagine at their darkest, spookiest, bleakest nightmares!

Their journey to Narnia meets Pan’s Labyrinth force them face the ugliest, most terrifying creatures, the person from alternate universe who already lost the last pieces of humanity. They think they achieved to escape. They think they can run away from it. But everything starts and connects with the willows which get more powerful and brightening at each day!

This is fast pacing, entertaining, smart, dazzling, horrifying story that I’ve devoured at half day. I loved the characters, I enjoyed the references, I liked the eerie, depressing atmosphere! I’m giving my 4 taxidermy stars and I highly recommend this to the genre’s lovers!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Gallery/Saga Press for sharing this remarkable ARC with me in exchange my honest review. I honestly had so much fun!

Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,460 reviews9,614 followers
December 30, 2020
UPDATE: $2.99 on Kindle US today 12/30/20

See the beautiful gif below of a willow tree woman all serene and peaceful...THIS AIN’T THAT BOOK!

First off, I had no idea this was the author of THE TWISTED ONES, I loved that book too! I live in my own little bubble. (I wish I could have my own bubble because - nevermind) This particular book went to my favorites list!! I love the hell out of it and I am preordering the paperback!!

I freaking love the characters! Kara (Carrot) moves in with her uncle at his WONDER MUSEUM after her divorce. All of the taxidermy and weird stuff doesn’t bother her as she grew up there. And next door there is the coffee shop that Simon runs. He also lives above the shop and Kara’s uncle owns that building too. Simon is a sweet pea!! He’s gay and he’s hilarious. Oh I can’t wait to get the book to add ALL the quotes.

The Hollow Places is creepy as hell and freaking hilarious! I haven’t laughed out loud this hard in a long time. The scary and humor and quaintness of the museum have a wonderful balance. The friendship between Kara and Simon are spot on...well...if you’re lucky enough to have friends like that!!

Soooooo....uncle goes into surgery and leaves Kara to watch the museum while he gets better at her moms house. Kara finds a hole in the wall and things get cray from there!! I mean scary, whackado and all things in between!

We have creepy willows, shadow things, scary people, other worlds, bizarre bunkers, deranged taxidermist raccoons and the list goes on.

I just want to highly recommend this book if you like a bit of humor with your horror books!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

*Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for an advanced, digital copy of this book.

BLOG: https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot....
Profile Image for Shannon.
3,090 reviews2,362 followers
May 10, 2021

And I see from other people's reviews that I'm once again in the minority ...

I initially enjoyed this but I got really annoyed with the repetition, ignoring clues (some real TSTL moments here), and the stereotypical sassy gay sidekick (in the author's note she said he's based on real people and that she even toned him down ... but idk how many people would make jokes about anal and wear fishnets and a top hat while exploring another world. And how many times did it have to be pointed out that Kara is SOOOO not his type. All of it was just so over-the-top and didn't really match the tone, imo.)

At about the 30% point, those things started to bug me. Every time something scary or unusual would happen, Kara would make a sarcastic joke and try to laugh it off. The first few times, this was funny and made sense as a coping mechanism. After like the 5th time though it got really old. It kind of ruins the atmosphere if every time something horrifying happens you make inappropriate jokes.

Here's an example of those two things that bothered me, at about the 64% point and on the same page, and this isn't the first time something like this comes up:
For some reason, that struck me as hilarious. I started laughing and nearly fell over. The giant otter gazed past me as I howled. "Oh god! Oh god, I'm trying to pick a fight with another universe!"
"Could happen." Simon grinned. "I mean, it'd be better if you just shouted Yo Mama jokes at it, but, hey ..."


"First we're going to fix the drywall patch. Then we're going to tie you to the bed."
"... Kinky."
"Yes, but you're not my type, hon."

Aside from the annoying sarcasm and jokes, Kara kept ignoring so many signs. Simon even makes a couple comments early on about how he's seen horror movies before and so knows what not to do. Kara apparently has not because she repeatedly ignores clues about what is going on to the point where you just want to scream at her.

Early on too, she makes a really dumb decision to mark where the door to her world is with a stick in the ground. Because, you know, nothing could possibly disturb a stick and I'm sure that stick is super identifiable from all other sticks. 🤦‍♀️

Now this might've just been a problem with my brain, but I had a really difficult time visualizing what the willow world and the bunkers looked like. Even the layout of the museum and the building it's in was confusing to me. Usually I have no issues with creating a map in my head of corridors and rooms (thanks, video games) but for some reason while reading this I was completely lost. I kept getting confused about whether the stairs were leading up or down and how the doors were arranged: are they in a hill or flush with the ground or something else entirely? Idk, maybe I read it too quickly and just missed something.

Something else interesting, is that for me the actual monsters weren't the scariest part. I found the school bus and the dude in the bunker to be WAY creepier than the hungry things. Oh, and speaking of that. The whole "PRAY THEY ARE HUNGRY" was ... eh. After you get the explanation I thought it would've been creepier if it was revealed that the person who scratched it on the wall just missed a comma. "PRAY, THEY ARE HUNGRY" seems way scarier.

One last thing. Kara gets divorced and is looking to move in with her mom but thankfully her uncle who owns a weird museum has space for her. Then he conveniently has to go to the hospital for surgery and she's left all alone to deal with things. And of course her mom is too far away and can only frantically call Kara to find out what's going on. So even though the MC is in her 30s, that didn't stop the author from using the absent parent trope.

In the end, I was confused about and annoyed with a number of things so my enjoyment waned as the story progressed. It probably sounds like I hated this, but that's only really true for the last half, so ... I suppose that isn't good lol. This kind of reminded me of the books I read as a teen in that I flew through it and it was mildly scary. The concept was a cool idea (even if it referenced Narnia [checks Kindle ...] 17 times), but the execution wasn't so great. I think if she writes a sequel though, I might check it out just to see what happens next ... though that's probably not the brightest idea I've had.

ARC provided by NetGalley
Profile Image for Melissa ~ Bantering Books.
204 reviews783 followers
October 26, 2020
All my reviews can be found on my blog, Bantering Books, at https:www.banteringbooks.com.

Are you looking for a super scary read for Halloween?

Yes? Then look elsewhere.

Because T. Kingfisher’s newest horror novel, The Hollow Places, isn’t really a horror novel. And it’s not super scary.

It’s a fantasy. More accurately, it’s a humorous fantasy, with occasional moments of creepy, squirmy Weird/Lovecraftian horror. (And I do mean, occasional. The moments are very few and far between.)

But it works. At least, it did for me. As a fantasy, the novel is imaginative and fun. And even though the genre mix-up may have initially resulted in a few ruffled feathers, all were quickly smoothed and forgotten as I became more and more captivated by Kingfisher’s unique world.

Newly divorced and homeless, Kara gratefully accepts her Uncle Earl’s unexpected invitation to live with him at The Wonder Museum, her childhood sanctuary. Home to numerous taxidermic specimens and other intriguing curiosities, not only is the Museum a popular, beloved tourist attraction – but unknown to Kara, it’s also a portal to another world.

One night, while patching an unexplained hole in one of the Museum’s walls, she and her friend, Simon, stumble into what is, essentially, a world between worlds. There, they discover countless other portals to different realities . . . and monstrous creatures far worse than any they could have imagined.

For Kara and Simon, what initially begins as an exciting adventure soon turns into a terrifying nightmare -- a nightmare they are unsure they will survive unscathed.

Scary or not, The Hollow Places is truly an incredible read. Kingfisher has skillfully written an engrossing, page-turning portal fantasy that is distinctive and complex. Her characters are appealing – both Kara and Simon are comical and likable – and the narrative is infused with warmth and heart. The book brings a smile to my face, just thinking of it.

And have I mentioned the novel is funny? Like, really funny? The humor is sharply clever, and there is witty and quirky dialogue galore. If not laugh-out-loud, the story is at least chuckle-out-loud. There are moments, however, especially in the beginning, when it all does feel a bit forced and over-the-top. But as the narrative progresses, the awkwardness settles down nicely, and the humor eventually slips into a more natural rhythm. (Or I just became more accustomed to it, which is equally possible, I suppose.)

I do wonder, though, if the novel’s overabundance of humor is part of the reason why The Hollow Places fails to create much, if any, fright in the reader. It’s almost as if too much lightheartedness is mixed into the narrative, thus diluting the darker horror aspects to the point where it is difficult to take any of the story seriously and be truly scared by it.

Hmm. Just a thought.

But again, the fact that the novel lacks any real fear factor did not in any way diminish my enjoyment. I loved The Hollow Places for what it is – a refreshingly creative, humorous, and entertaining fantasy.

I enthusiastically recommend it.

My sincerest appreciation to Gallery/Saga Press and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy. All opinions included herein are my own.
Profile Image for Zain.
1,371 reviews140 followers
April 22, 2023
Hope I Don’t Have Nightmares!

I am truly a fan of horror and this book fits the ticket. I generally like to read in the dark, but there were times l just couldn’t.

What makes this story so desperate for me, is that l really love Kara. Having to read about bad things happening to her made me so sad.

Could a heroine ever be so lovable? Could a place ever be so creepy? Could a book ever be so horrific? Yes, yes and yes!

I am definitely going to read this book again. It is now one of my favorites and I will tell everybody l
know, whether they want me to, or not, they are missing a great story and they should read this book.

Highly recommended!

A wonderful five stars. ✨✨✨✨✨
Profile Image for Nataliya.
743 reviews11.8k followers
February 7, 2021
“If there's a way into hell, someone will always find it.”
I think classifying this book as horror does it a disservice by setting expectations for something different. It’s not horror at all, but rather a darkly humorous portal fantasy, of a bit of a twisted kind. There is a bit of subtle eerie creepiness here, just enough to unsettle — but do not expect to be frightened (apparently a few readers had issues with that - but it works for me, a proudly unapologetic wuss). And there is plenty of lightheartedness, witty banter, awkward humor and one very annoyed cat. And, of course, Glory to God Museum of Natural Wonders, Curiosities, and Taxidermy.
“I turned the concrete over in my hands and quietly relinquished the notion that I was dealing with reality as I understood it.”

Oh, and next time you come across a willow, I suggest giving it a wide berth. Juuuust in case.

Portal fantasies are fascinating, and this one is certainly on the creepy side. Imagine the worlds right next to each other, so close that they bleed into each other through places that are a bit more hollow than the surrounding barriers. Imagine the worlds where skin of reality is so thin that you can almost sense what’s lurking just beneath it.
“The willow world had been full of apparently unoccupied spaces that were nevertheless full of… something. The bus driver. The children. The thing that had walked past us.”

Note to self: if you ever discover that a random hole in the wall leads to a reality-defying concrete bunker in the place that shouldn’t exist, don’t go there. And certainly do not open the rusted deadbolts-secured door which is obviously guarding against something on the other side of reality. And certainly don’t go through this door. And certainly do not keep going away, possibly losing the sight of the place that would lead you back to your world. I mean, you’ve seen enough horror movies to know it’s bound to be a bad idea, right? Right? Right?
“I also still had the awful nagging feeling that the skin of this world was terribly thin, and if I tried to dig down, I’d punch a hole in it and end up on the other side, looking up at the willows from behind.”

Ah, never mind. We know people will keep doing stupid crap. To quote Terry Pratchett in his infinite wisdom: “Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH', the paint wouldn't even have time to dry.”

Creepy or not, this book is quite funny. That’s my brand of humor — slightly awkward and sufficiently nerdy. It balances out the creepy, for which I was immensely grateful (again, I’m a wuss). I use humor as defense mechanism in awkward and scary situations, appropriate or not, so I related to this *so hard*. And Simon is a perfect companion if you are ever stuck in a uncanny-valley parallel universe.
“Simon had to be nearly forty, if not older, but he looked about eighteen. Somewhere, a portrait was probably aging for him.”

“Dammit, I can’t believe I spent so much of my life on a man who would unironically post the line “Today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.” And in Papyrus, too.”

“He said, “Come on, let’s go back to the coffee shop and I’ll make us Irish coffees and we’ll discuss this like people who don’t die in the first five minutes of a horror movie.”

It’s sharp and clever and quirky atmospheric.

But... but... but... while that cover is creepy indeed, I don’t think that tree could pass for a willow even in a creepy parallel world.

4 stars.
“It was creepy, but when you have spent the night in a nightmare world filled with willows, merely creepy things no longer make much of a dent on you.”
Profile Image for Debra .
2,279 reviews35k followers
October 7, 2020
"Does your uncle know there's a portal to Narnia in his museum?"

Kara is living and working with her uncle after her recent divorce. When she finds a secret tunnel/portal in her uncle's museum, she and her friend Simon decide to check it out. Needless to say, they will wish that their curiosity did not get the best of them because entering the bunker/portal/tunnel leads them not to Narnia but to alternate realities which will have their hair standing on end, their hearts thumping and we will witness them trying to control their own thoughts.

"We're going to die here, aren't we?"

Well, they will not be going on a joy ride or a happy stroll through some underground secret tunnel. This was a refreshing, chilling, creepy, humorous, and horrific book. Love horror with a twist of humor? This is for you! I really enjoyed the originality and the inner dialogue of Kara. This was a nice fast-paced read which did not disappoint. This was my first book by Kingfisher and it will not be my last.

Pray they are hungry.

I also prayed that this book did not end. I found it to be an enjoyable walk on the dark side. The characters are likable, and the story sucked me in immediately.

Do not miss this book. Highly Recommend! Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will enjoy this one. Be sure to read the author's note at the end!

Thank you to Galley/Saga Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,438 reviews78k followers
October 2, 2020
This is a remarkably clever work of horror fiction with a marvelous sense of humor as well! I typically prefer my scary novels to be complex and intelligent, as I like the challenge of thinking through things more than straight up jump scares, and The Hollow Places has a great deal of smarty pants, thought provoking science fiction aspects mixed in with a good bit of gore. While I could have done with a little less dialogue clogging up the flow, I did whole-heartedly enjoy the way that the story unfolded, and the quirky characters were a delightful contrast to the oppressive atmosphere. If you're looking for an enjoyable, spooky read for October: look no further!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
November 19, 2020
oooh, goodreads choice awards finalist for best horror 2020! what will happen?


since we are in the opening round of the 2020 goodreads awards, i suppose i should mention that i have read 9/15 of the 'best horror' selections (update: aaaand 10/20 of the semifinalists), and although it hurt my horror-loving-heart to choose between so many strong candidates, choose i did:


it's HERE!! and just in time for spooktober!!!

A man who had devoured his twin in the womb and was now carrying her eye around in his head was pitying me. That seemed as if it should be a good metaphor for my life, although I'd be damned if I could make sense of it.

and that, folks, is why i love t. kingfisher.

additionally, this one is set in (and beyoooond) the Glory to God Museum of Natural Wonders, Curiosities, and Taxidermy, and features (he would say stars) a cat named beau, (ultimately prevented from using up any of his nine lives despite his somewhat reckless curiosity), a mad hatter sidekick, and a lot of taxidermied critters. including an eight foot long amazonian giant otter, which may be too big to qualify as a 'critter.'

more broadly, not only are these two books pretty excellent both inside and out:

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

but another no-doubt unintentional selling-point similarity is that in both of these, kingfisher has taken stories by authors whose olde timey horror does nothing for me—using machen's The White People as the bass notes to The Twisted Ones and blackwood's The Willows here—and, by filtering them through her spooky-quirky storytelling finesse, has made of their dry bones a fresh and hot and altogether delicious stew.

cosmic horror has never been my thing, but somehow, when sheee does it, i don't mind all the blurred edges and spatial and temporal tomfoolery that goes along with that genre. unlike her inspiration-sources, there's an ease to her writing; a flow that supports and carries the reader along without drowning them in ineffables along the way. and she's funny—even the big action sequence in this one is pretty absurd. don't get me wrong, it's not silly and you will be sufficiently freaked out, but it is, in fact, bonkers.

i just love her���she's spooky and smart and she's got a unique style that never disappoints, and when she speaks of That kind of bleak down-at-the-bone enchantment, i'm nothing but swoon. long may she reign.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Riley.
427 reviews21.1k followers
January 11, 2021
this is the type of bizarre horror that i love
Profile Image for Katie Colson.
649 reviews5,796 followers
November 23, 2022
November 2022
Okay hear me out on this,
There are some books that simply won't hit the same upon reread. Whether it's a thriller, a mystery or a horror, there's just some experiences you can't have twice.

That being said, I adore this book.

It felt more like a 4 star the second time around but I won't change my rating because I believe that this is the type of book you rate on the initial experience.

Heavily recommend this cosmic horror. Especially the audiobook!

June 2022
This is my type of weird horror. I ate this up. The writing is witty and gross and creepy. I was laughing out loud reading this which rarely happens. While I'll admit that the base of this plot was confusing at best, it was all worth it for the ride. Just vibes and the vibes were 👩🏻‍🍳💋

fyi: the audiobook is fantastic

This is the kind of thing in a book that makes me laugh...

“Turns out my left eye’s got some rare form of color blindness that only women get. So they think I’m probably a chimera and ate my twin in the womb and it’s actually her left eye.” I sipped the coffee. It was extremely good coffee. “Huh.” “The optometrist got very excited.”

And this is the kind of thing in a book that makes me go "wow, yeah, damn she's right!"

“I was starting to think that half of the angst of a divorce wasn’t the loss of stability, it was coming to terms with just how lousy your judgment had been.”
Profile Image for Kat (on hiatus).
226 reviews538 followers
April 8, 2023
This one’s going to be short and sweet.

Here are a few tips I can share after listening to T. Kingfisher’s 2020 humorous fantasy/horror-lite novel, The Hollow Places, excellently narrated by Hillary Huber:

1. If you suddenly find a hole in your wall … let’s just drywall that thing up and move on, shall we? No need to explore that further. 👀

2. Any museum with the word “Wonder” in it? Just keep wondering and walk on by. 🚶

3. Willow trees may look pretty, but don’t be fooled. They’re listening. 🤫

4. Taxidermied animals … are they friend or foe? Hmmm …. 🤔

Honestly, I’d hate to see what Kingfisher’s dreams look like … or her waking thoughts for that matter. I’m not a big fan of horror or fantasy, so an author who can get me excited about either genre is doing something right. If that’s a combo you like … check this out! It wasn’t my favorite of hers due to a slow start, but she always gets points from me for her vivid imagination!

★★★ ½

Thanks to Libby and my library for this audiobook.
Profile Image for Eridiana.
366 reviews153 followers
September 30, 2020
Seeing my rating you might think that I hated this book. I didn't. The only thing I felt and still feel is total confusion as to why it exists. I'm not trying to be mean, I genuinely don't understand.

It's supposed to be horror, yet it's not even remotely creepy. There were a few promising scenes but they were ruined by the protagonist thinking or saying something stupid and then giggling incessantly. The writing itself did nothing to build any kind of atmosphere, it felt like light contemporary trying to be funny and scary and failing at both aspects. After every joke I expected to hear background laughter like in a sitcom. That quirky and ridiculous type of humor felt absolutely out of place in a supposedly horror novel and made the characters feel like teens rather than adults, who also lacked any characterization depth and could have been killed in the first chapter for all I cared.

The plot... Well, there is none. They find this other world, see a few weird things and then spend the whole book discussing what they've seen, coming up with theories, making jokes, drinking coffee, and talking to a cat. Seriously, I don't understand what this was supposed to be about.

This eARC was provided by Saga Press via Netgalley.
April 6, 2023

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

This is some of the creepiest stuff I've ever read. It reads kind of like a mash-up between Silent Hill and Narnia. Imagine finding a hole in your place of residence, but instead of leading you to a delightful and whimsical journey of portal fantasy adventure, it plunges you into a foggy nightmare land where islands with doors spread out as far as the eye can see-- like the lighthouses in Bioshock: Infinite-- and something disturbing and unseen lurks in the rasping shadows of willow trees.

So here's the thing. I am a HUGE horror wuss. My siblings both love horror movies-- I can't stand them. I'm a romance reader at heart, okay? I just want everyone and the dog (or cat) to survive at the end and get married and maybe make babies but also not because I'm all about choice. And horror movies-- and books-- have a nasty habit of unaliving the characters it makes me care about. That stinks.

Not T. Kingfisher, though. I've read three of her horror stories at this point and so far, all the animal sidekicks have survived. (Not only that, but they also defend their humans like the very good girls and boys that they are.) Sometimes there's a bit of a romance, sometimes a fromance (friend romance, get it?). But the main character is always a charming blend of cynical and doofy, and there's always some lighthearted humor to take the load off the spine-melting terror. And you know what? I LOVE THAT.

I don't know why I keep coming back to the horror genre when it stresses me out so much. I think it's because I love the VIBES of horror. I grew up with Goosebumps and Scholastic's Point Horror line, so I like the feeling of being scared, I just want an HEA, too. But T. Kingfisher's books deliver on the vibes while (usually) delivering HEAs for those characters you care about. THE HOLLOW PLACES sure pushed all of my limits, though. I don't want to say too much and spoil things, but there was some serious body horror in here and she knew exactly how much to withhold to maintain that cloying sense of uncertainty and terror. Do NOT read this alone in the dark or you will be very sorry.

I'm giving this five stars because I honestly think this is the best and most developed storyline she's come up with after her Bluebeard retelling, THE SEVENTH BRIDE. Her other horror novel, THE TWISTED ONES, was just as creepy, but I felt like the payoff wasn't quite as good. THE HOLLOW PLACES delivered in a way that TWO did not, and man oh man, did I want to return to sender. Instead, I'm keeping this on my Kindle because I think the reread potential is high and I want to have it on hand as a reference of what good horror looks like, in case I ever decide to write horror myself.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Tim.
476 reviews611 followers
November 9, 2020
"Does your uncle know there's a portal to Narnia in his museum?"

This was a surprise. I've read books before that I started and the novel was not anything like I expected it to be from the description. Sometimes that's disappointing and other times it works out better. In this case, I think this is a much better book than I expected it to be.

This is the story is something of a spin on Algernon Blackwood's "The Willows." Our tale follows Kara; recently divorced, low on money and moving into her uncle's Glory to God Museum of Natural Wonders, Curiosities and Taxidermy in Hog Chapel, North Carolina. She's planning to help out and catalogue his assortment of random... things, until she gets back on her feet. He uncle though goes in for surgery and one day a hole appears in the wall. Together with her friend Simon (a barista from the coffee shop connected to the museum) they discover this hole leads to another world filled with fog, willows and something else... a comforting warning just saying "Pray they are hungry."

Now given the plot description, you may expect a sad story dealing with divorce. You may expect terror from another world. You may even expect to see a religious mania based on the name of the uncle's museum... Would you be expecting a comedy? While yes, Kara does have to deal with the hurt of the divorce, it is not the main focus of the story. Terror from another world of course does happen, but it's more of an unnerving/atmospheric sort of horror that never gets too panic inducing. The uncle, while religious, is also an extremely nice guy, who ignores the "meaner" aspects of the religion, because frankly he can't imagine any of the people he likes in hell and likes just about everyone.

Honestly this has been the perfect election day/post election day read as it has been shockingly humorous (there was even a nod to Terry Pratchett in the first couple of pages setting the actual tone of the novel) and it was a pleasant diversion from election anxiety which hit me harder this year than previous ones. This may sound almost paradoxical, this is a “comforting” horror novel. There are unnerving scenes, terrible things happen and there is at least one literary equivalent to a jump scare in it that somehow the author pulled off, but at the same time it’s a relaxing read that has made me smile, laugh and generally just put me in a good mood. This is one of those rare books where I genuinely liked pretty much every character in it that has more than a few lines (with the exception of Kara's ex-husband).

While I enjoyed all the characters, Simon definitely stands out as the best "If I'm Stuck In Another World, You're One of the People I'd Want With Me" sort of characters. He managed to be realistically quick thinking, but also have a genuine sense of terror to the situation that fit. He managed to provide a significant amount of the comedy to the book, but never came off as a comedic sidekick (which was much appreciated).

Overall I enjoyed this book immensely (though I actually enjoyed the earlier sections more before the "horror" kicked in as I liked seeing her uncle as a character and the history of the museum was an enjoyable read and I'd love to have seen more of the origin of the items there). The other world was just strange enough to keep me wondering what would happen there and try to figure out its rules.

Also, if I had to make an award for best cat in a novel, Beau, the museum's sarcastic without saying a word feline, certainly would be up there.

A solid 4/5 stars and a recommendation to fans of humor in horror.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,226 reviews1,274 followers
October 15, 2022
Deep in Creep......

There's a classic English children's book (although some say that it's definitely not for children) called The Wind in the Willows. The Hollow Places has a slight tingling wind and a heavy-duty emphasis on willows. Willows that will give you the willies....

Let's just say that Kara knows about the willies up close and personal. She's going through a difficult divorce and wishes to escape the endless calls from her unbalanced-soon-to-be-ex husband. With very little options and no funds, Kara accepts the offering of a no frills room by her Uncle Earl. Earl owns the Museum of Natural Wonders in North Carolina. He's due for surgery on his knees which have bothered him for eons. All he asks is that Kara take charge of the museum in his absence.

Now the museum is a draw for tourists looking for something unusual for their itinerary. Earl receives new shipments from across the country from his stock of well-meaning friends. Kara is intrigued by a whirlwind of taxidermy items lining the walls and table displays. There's snakeskins and pig skulls and shiny armadillos wearing hats. Earl's museum is filled with off the wall curiosities that catch the eye.

The first morning that Kara is in charge finds her next door at the local coffee shop. It's here that she connects with Simon, a top hat wearing coffee barista. The banter between these two is worth the price of admission. There are laugh out loud moments of quirky dialogue. (This may be the best intro into T. Kingfisher with enough inserted humor to diffuse the creep factor a bit.)

The first few days present no problems as Kara and her cat Beau settle into a routine. Kara does a walk-through before closing up one evening. She notices that one of the tourists knocked a hole in one of the walls and never reported it. Kara asks Simon to help her patch up the hole not wanting to leave it for Earl.

Hunka Munka! Chunks of the wall begin to fall away. What they see beyond the hole is shocking. Now here's where we all shout until we're hoarse. Don't crawl through that damn hole. Alas, it falls on deaf ears.

I'll leave you chickens here deciding if you're gonna crawl in after them. But what awaits is a portal or many to different dimensions beyond your wildest imaginations. Many of you may get a little H.P. Lovecraft vibe going. Atmospheric for sure, The Hollow Places will keep you locked in and turning pages. Just enough creep diced with humor for a satisfying read.

I've already started a list of T. Kingfisher's other novels. Let's test them out on the ol' Creep-O-Meter. Shall we? Yup.......
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
November 23, 2020
Okay ... that was downright creepy! I’ll never look at a willow tree the same way again.


Initial post: This is a "Read Now" book on NetGalley right now, and T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) is amazing. So I think I'll read it even though horror novels aren't generally my thing. :D
Profile Image for Jonathan.
712 reviews81 followers
October 7, 2021
I wasn't sure what to expect going into this title. However, to me, what followed was an incredibly original story written superbly in a tone that was conversational and relatable.

So why three stars? For a horror novel, at least to me, it was not very much horror. It was entertaining and engaging throughout; I enjoyed the story would probably even enjoy it as a movie, but the horror aspects were somewhat few/far between overall.

All in all, a good ride. :)
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,643 reviews5,092 followers
August 28, 2021
¡review #1,500!

will try to make this one short & sweet because Hollow Places hit me right in my sweet spot and no need to go on about it. it is fantastic that this author took a classic Algernon Blackwood story that is barely read by modern readers and essentially wrote a sequel to it, one that stays exactly true to the interdimensional terrors & wonders of The Willows while expanding upon it in exciting Narnia-esque ways. this was fun from beginning to end, written with an almost madcap flair that employs a lot of Whedonverse meta snark but still doesn't feel cheap or rote. probably more of a 3 star book, but I'm giving it another star just because The Willows is one of my favorite things and Kingfisher honors it completely, despite trading out that tale's sinister mysticism for a warm & friendly tone, complete with cute cat, that feels like the author was smiling a lot when writing this one. not to say that there aren't some really eerie moments in the mix - there's plenty. really looking forward to seeing what she did with Arthur Machen's The White People!
Profile Image for Mir.
4,862 reviews5,006 followers
October 6, 2020
In time for your Halloween scares.


Well, thanks for destroying my childhood dream of stumbling upon a portal to another world, author. If I see one now I'm running like hell.


It's here! I am reading it! In bed with my cat to protect me from the creepy parts!


Yay! I won a giveaway for this! Not sure if it's coming in October (the scheduled release date) or immediately, but I'm looking forward to it. I really enjoyed her previous Weird Horror-inspired novel, The Twisted Ones, which used Arthur Machen's The White People as its base.
Profile Image for Brittany McCann.
1,642 reviews404 followers
December 20, 2022
I feel like the book I read was not the same book reviewed by others. This book was in dire need of a good bout of developmental editing. The problem perhaps lies in the fact that I am currently engaged in the revision thesis class for my MFA, and this book does just about everything that we are taught NOT to do.

There are repetitions one line after something is already stated. Too many instances of restating the exact same thing, making the reader feel like, "didn't I just read that same part of a sentence within the last paragraph." So then you rewind, and yes, it was the same thing, almost word for word. There was an excessive amount of time spent constantly reminding the reader of things, such as the fact that Kara would never, not ever be attractive to a gay man. Umm, ok, why are we constantly beating the reader over the head with this same line of dialogue?

There are many moments were credibility is lost for the reader. For example, Kara's shredded pants just happened to manage to become a tourniquet without any effort from her? Does the author know what a tourniquet is? Even in this weird alternate location, this was just too much.

The narrator's performance leaves much to be desired. Kara is supposed to be in dire situations, but the tone and inflection make the narrator sound more bored than anything. While listening, this was hard to get into while listening because the narrator did not perform the emotion written into these scenes. This was not T. Kingfisher's fault, and the physical book would have made this a better experience.

The portals were interesting, but again I can't tell if it was the narrative performance, but it just never sucked me into them. I couldn't get immersed into the telling because so many editing faux pas were occurring that would glaring stare me in the face, and I couldn't find my way into the creative universe concocted by Kingfisher.

Another weird thing was quotes that by themselves are awesome but felt forced in the novel, such as:
"Ladies, get you a man that can handle a portal to Hell without freaking out."

The best part of the novel was the creativity of the portals and the taxidermied section. The most interesting character was the cat.

Overall, I was mainly baffled at how highly rated this novel was. Obviously, I must not have been the target audience. I hope whoever reads this enjoys it more than I did.

1.5 stars rounded up to 2 for originality.
Profile Image for Beverly.
805 reviews290 followers
April 21, 2023
T. Kingfisher is a weird and wonderful writer. This is the second book I've read by her and each has been a unique, extraordinary experience. The first was set in a mythical time in the past, and is based on the Poe book, The Fall of the House of Usher.

The Hollow Places is set in the contemporary world and has some levity included in the scariness, because the main character is going through a divorce. She, Kara, is dealing with a portal to hell, so her soon-to-be ex-husband doesn't bother her as much as he used to. This leads to some ordinary, couple -divorcing angst which makes for some funny phone calls.

She also has a next door neighbor to help her with her troubles and he is a friend beyond compare. This is not a set up for a romance; he is gay. Kara has been given a haven away from her husband by her sweet uncle who invited her to come and help him at his Museum of Wonders. The haven becomes a hell, as she's left on her own when her uncle has to have major surgery and a mysterious hole opens up in the wall.
November 3, 2020
3.5 stars

If you are in the mood for weird, creepy, alternate worlds, creatures that hear your thoughts, shadowy things, and run for you life things that are fearsome frightening, and ghastly, I do have a book for you! However, there are many moments of laugh out loud fun in the pages that will help you to be able to wrap your arms around and love the main characters of Carrot Kara) and her friend Simon.

Kara, newly divorced and in need of a place to find respite and a place to live, volunteers to take charge of her uncle Earl's Wonder Museum when Earl suffers a medical emergency. The museum has been a place of childhood memories, a place that always provided hours of fun with its curiosities and weird objects. However, Carrot finds a portal in an upstairs wall to what eventually will become a place of nightmares where threatening and ominous things reside, where willows are treacherous, and where one's life is in constant peril.

The undaunted, most times yet scared out of the wits duo of Kara and Simon, realize not only the peril they are in but also our world should these things invade and we succumb to their trappings. Will the duo succeed or will the "possessed" objects win, especially the assorted "swamp" creatures that seem to fill up the pages?

Enjoyable fun with a witty aside, this book is one that blends a mixture of fantasy, horror, friendship, and bone chilling creepy scenes.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this story.
Profile Image for Dave.
3,010 reviews331 followers
August 5, 2020
Imagine that you take a job in your crazy uncle's taxidermy museum, bunking in the back, following a marriage that went sour, a life falling apart. And one day left to your own devices you find a hole in the wall and a corridor that can't possibly be there behind the hole. Physics says nothing could possibly be there.

We all think that it would be cool to travel to another world and meet Barsoomian princesses, firebreathing dragons, Humpty Dumpty, and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. But, maybe the other world ain't all that much like Alice falling down the rabbit hole.

Well, it's a rabbit hole alright. But, it leads to a world where Newton's rules don't really apply and reality is warped beyond your imagination. It's not safe as in not safe like you can't comprehend.

With a great narrative voice, Kingfisher takes us on a horrifying journey to places we never wanted to go.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 58 books8,100 followers
November 6, 2020
Tremendous horror novel from T Kingfisher, beautifully written and profoundly disturbing. It's inspired by The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, which is insanely creepy in a hard to define way, with bonus taxidermy. And even though it's a combination of cosmic, existential and body horror, there is also enough of Kingfisher's deep warmth and kindness here to give you hope: cursing the darkness, but still lighting the candle.

Writing this on day 4129 of the US election and this is the only book I've managed to read in about a week, which is high praise.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,785 reviews2,340 followers
May 13, 2021
"Come on, there's a hallway that can't exist and a giant locked door at the end. Do you want to get eaten by monsters or open a portal to hell or whatever?"

The book could have ended on page 43 if they'd only decided to Netflix and chill, but NOOOO . . . they had to pick that portal to hell thing!

I was really in the mood for a book featuring a magical world, but I decided I should probably read this horror book I borrowed from the library instead, and DANG! - if these pages didn't feature the eeriest, most mysterious world I've encountered since Annihilation. In a mist-shrouded place where They can get you if you think about Them, two pals discover unimaginable horrors where the best thing you can hope for is that They are hungry. It's good the author leavens everything with a healthy dose of humor . . . AND creepy taxidermy.

I LOVED this one!

And, now I've got that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you realize you just may have found a new favorite author.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,602 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.