Friday 26 March 2021

House of Hollow

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland (Penguin Books) RRP $19.99 HB ISBN 9780143796992

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Reviewer Melissa Albert has described this YA novel as a ‘haunting modern fairytale (which) will wrap you up like a glittering fog, before going for your throat.’ This reviewer agrees.

There’s no doubt Iris Hollow and her two older sisters, Grey and Vivi, are strange. Ever since they disappeared on a suburban street in Scotland as children only to return a month later with no memory of what happened to them, odd, eerie occurrences seem to follow in their walk. And they are changing. First their hair turned white, then their blue eyes slowly turned black. 

Now, ten years later, seventeen-year-old Iris is trying to fit in and graduate high school, something her famously glamorous globe-trotting sisters never managed to do. But then Iris goes missing, leaving only bizarre clues about her disappearance. Grey and Vivi are left to trace her last few days. Soon they are brushing against the supernatural.

This is a beautifully written story with sentences that linger in the memory because they are so clear and evocative. The language is full of sensuous imagery. Here’s a description of Grey, a supermodel and fashion designer: ‘…she had grown into a gossamer slip of a woman with hair like spun sugar and a face out of Greek mythology. Even in still pictures, there was something vaporous and hyaline about her, like she might descend into the ether at any moment.’ And a description of a cat: ‘(she) … was older than me, and so threadbare and crooked she was beginning to look like a bad taxidermy job.’

This is a beautifully crafted story with sensual poetry and power in most sentences. It is sure to be loved by teenagers who appreciate well-written, compelling, and thrilling novels.

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