House of Hollow
House of Hollow
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A New York Times Bestseller!
An Instant Indie Bestseller!
A dark, twisty modern fairytale where three sisters discover they are not exactly all that they seem and evil things really do go bump in the night.Iris Hollow and her two older sisters are unquestionably strange. Ever since they disappeared on a suburban street in Scotland as children only to return a month a later with no memory of what happened to them, odd, eerie occurrences seem to follow in their wake. And they’re changing. First, their dark hair turned white. Then, their blue eyes slowly turned black. They have insatiable appetites yet never gain weight. People find them disturbingly intoxicating, unbearably beautiful, and inexplicably dangerous.
But now, ten years later, seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow is doing all she can to fit in and graduate high school on time–something her two famously glamourous globe-trotting older sisters, Grey and Vivi, never managed to do. But when Grey goes missing without a trace, leaving behind bizarre clues as to what might have happened, Iris and Vivi are left to trace her last few days. They aren’t the only ones looking for her though. As they brush against the supernatural they realize that the story they’ve been told about their past is unraveling and the world that returned them seemingly unharmed ten years ago, might just be calling them home. Praise for House of Hollow:
A 2022 Texas Tayshas Reading List Pick
A 2021 New York Public Library Best Book Pick“Stepping nimbly among the liminal spaces and eerie real-world haunts of our heroine’s cipher-sister, this haunting modern fairy tale will wrap you up like a glittering fog, before going for your throat.” —Melissa Albert, New York Times bestselling author of The Hazel Wood
★ “Sutherland keeps this haunting, contemporary fairy tale poised on the edge of gorgeous and gruesome, with visceral descriptions of sensual yet menacing magic hidden in the everyday. . . Hand this to your Nova Ren Suma and Melissa Albert fans.” —Booklist, starred review
★ “This is slow-burn horror with imagery steeped in the senses . . . and Sutherland maximizes tension by playing into familiar tropes and then tearing away from them . . . The ending manages to be both horrific and heartbreaking . . . [with a] lingering chill.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review“Wonderfully creepy and full of unnerving supernatural flourishes.” —PopSugar“[Readers] will be eviscerated. . . Alive with lush language and a dark fairy tale feel, this is a compelling readalike for lovers of Holly Black’s many wonderful fair folk standalones and series.” —School Library Journal“Smart and assured narration easily carries a fast-paced story entwining themes of grief and loss with elements of folklore and some very inventive body horror. The pervasive feeling of dread builds to a shocking twist. A lush and darkly twisted modern fairy tale.” —Kirkus Reviews“Filled with evocative detail, Sutherland’s dark fantasy teems with eerie atmosphere . . . [in] Sutherland’s carefully crafted fantasy world. Readers who are delighted by stories of the uncanny . . . will find themselves enchanted.” —Publishers Weekly“In House of Hollow, Krystal Sutherland turns her razor-sharp imagination to new horizons and proves, once again, that words blossom at her command. This story will steal up your spine, slip beneath your skin, and stick to you like honey.” —Samantha Shannon, New York Times bestselling author of the Bone Season series and The Priory of the Orange Tree
“Filled with lush language and a fairy tale feel, this horror story takes readers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. . . Hand this to your readers who love Holly Black books and dark twisted fairytales. This high speed ride will catapult readers to an end many may see coming, but which is nevertheless shocking when it finally arrives.” —School Library Connection“This dark, deliciously twisted novel has everything you could hope for as a reader—a brilliant concept, glamorous characters with secrets to hide, immersive world-building, and some of the finest writing I’ve seen in YA fiction. I’ll put it like this—I am obsessed with House of Hollow.” —Louise O’Neill, author of Printz Award Honoree Asking for It
“Dark and delicious, House of Hollow hums with malice and mystery. I devoured it whole.” —Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Mercies
“An intoxicating, gorgeously grotesque fever dream full of the impossible stench of carrion flowers, the allure of haunted stairways in the woods and doors leading nowhere. A beautifully crafted, addictively dark fairy tale with horns!” —Dawn Kurtagich, author of The Dead House
Praise for A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares:
An Amazon Editor’s Favorite YA Book for Fall 2017
An Amazon September Best of the Month Pick — YA/TeensA Hello Giggles Best of September PickA Bustle Best of September YA Pick
A 2017 B&N Best Young Adult Book
“[A] magical take on mental illness that feels very real.”—Bustle“Rainbow Rowell devotees, John Green junkies, and fans of This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales will find a lot to love here.”—School Library Journal “The story is fantastic. Making the most of magic realism and with a perfectly paced plot, easy-to-love characters, and a touching array of interesting and relevant topics, Sutherland’s book should be on everyone’s bookshelves…an alluring exploration of the human mental landscape.”—The Nerd Daily
“Entirely pure pleasure, a sweet and heartfelt story of love, fear, and mental illness. It’s funny and touching in all the best ways.”—VoxPraise for Our Chemical Hearts:Indies Introduce Summer 2016 PickAutumn 2016 Kids’ Indie Next List – “Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers”
“The most romantic read of the season is an arguably anti-YA story… It’s the complex chemistry between Henry and Grace that touches the heart and doesn’t let go.”—USA Today
“This much-buzzed-about debut captures the messy, awkward, all-consuming emotions of a teen’s first love.”—Entertainment Weekly, Fall Books Preview
“This book delves far deeper than the typical high school romance, and its savvy wordplay and Henry’s self-deprecating charm will win over fans of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.”—School Library Journal Krystal Sutherland’s first novel, Our Chemical Hearts, was published in over twenty countries and made the American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next List in 2016. The film adaptation, Chemical Hearts (2020), was produced by Amazon Studios and stars Lili Reinhart (Riverdale) and Austin Abrams (Dash & Lily). Sutherland served as an executive producer on the project. Her second novel, A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares, was published in 2017 and has been optioned for adaptation by Yellow Bird. Originally from Australia, she has lived on four continents and currently calls London home. PROLOGUE
I was ten years old the first time I realized I was strange.
Around midnight, a woman dressed in white slipped through my bedroom window and cut off a lock of my hair with sewing scissors. I was awake the whole time, tracking her in the dark, so frozen by fear that I couldn’t move, couldn’t scream.
I watched as she held the curl of my hair to her nose and inhaled. I watched as she put it on her tongue and closed her mouth and savored the taste for a few moments before swallowing. I watched as she bent over me and ran a fingertip along the hook-shaped scar at the base of my throat.
It was only when she opened my door—bound for the bedrooms of my older sisters, with the scissors still held at her side— that I finally screamed.
My mother tackled her in the hall. My sisters helped hold her down. The woman was rough and rabid, thrashing against the three of them with a strength we’d later learn was fueled by amphetamines. She bit my mother. She headbutted my middle sister, Vivi, so hard in the face that her nose was crushed and both of her eye sockets were bruised for weeks.
It was Grey, my eldest sister, who finally subdued her. When she thought my mother wasn’t looking, she bent low over the wild woman’s face and pressed her lips against her mouth. It was a soft kiss right out of a fairy tale, made gruesome by the fact that the woman’s chin was slick with our mother’s blood.
For a moment, the air smelled sweet and wrong, a mixture of honey and something else, something rotten. Grey pulled back and held the woman’s head in her hands, and then watched her, intently, waiting. My sister’s eyes were so black, they looked like polished river stones. She was fourteen then, and already the most beautiful creature I could imagine. I wanted to peel the skin from her body and wear it draped over mine.
The woman shuddered beneath Grey’s touch and then just . . . stopped.
By the time the police arrived, the woman’s eyes were wide and faraway, her limbs so liquid she could no longer stand and had to be carried out, limp as a drunk, by three officers.
I wonder if Grey already knew then what we were.
The woman, the police would later tell us, had read about us on the internet and stalked us for several weeks before the break-in.
We were famous for a bizarre thing that had happened to us three years earlier, when I was seven, a thing I couldn’t remember and never thought about but that apparently intrigued many other people a great deal.
I was keyed into our strangeness after that. I watched for it in the years that followed, saw it bloom around us in unexpected ways. There was the man who tried to pull Vivi into his car when she was fifteen because he thought she was an angel; she broke his jaw and knocked out two of his teeth. There was the teacher, the one Grey hated, who was fired after he pressed her against a wall and kissed her neck in front of her whole class. There was the pretty, popular girl who had bullied me, who stood in front of the entire school at assembly and silently began to shave her own head, tears streaming down her face as her dark locks fell in spools at her feet.
When I found Grey’s eyes through the sea of faces that day, she was staring at me. The bullying had been going on for months, but I’d only told my sisters about it the night before. Grey winked, then returned to the book she was reading, uninterested in the show. Vivi, always less subtle, had her feet up on the back of the chair in front of her and was grinning from ear to ear, her crooked nose wrinkled in delight.
Dark, dangerous things happened around the Hollow sisters.
We each had black eyes and hair as white as milk. We each had enchanting four-letter names: Grey, Vivi, Iris. We walked to school together. We ate lunch together. We walked home together. We didn’t have friends, because we didn’t need them. We moved through the corridors like sharks, the other little fish parting around us, whispering behind our backs.
Everyone knew who we were. Everyone had heard our story. Everyone had their own theory about what had happened to us. My sisters used this to their advantage. They were very good at cultivating their own mystery like gardeners, coaxing the heady intrigue that ripened around them into the shape of their choosing. I simply followed in their wake, quiet and studious, always embarrassed by the attention. Strangeness only bred strangeness, and it felt dangerous to tempt fate, to invite in the darkness that seemed already naturally drawn to us.
It didn’t occur to me that my sisters would leave school long before I did, until it actually happened. School hadn’t suited either of them. Grey was blisteringly smart but never found anything in the curriculum particularly to her liking. If a class called for her to read and analyze Jane Eyre, she might instead decide Dante’s Inferno was more interesting and write her essay on that. If an art class called for her to sketch a realistic self-portrait, she might instead draw a sunken-eyed monster with blood on its hands. Some teachers loved this; most did not, and before she dropped out, Grey only ever managed mediocre grades. If this bothered her, she never showed it, drifting through classes with the sureness of a person who had been told her future by a clairvoyant and had liked what she’d heard.
Vivi preferred to cut school as frequently as possible, which relieved the administration, since she was a handful when she did show up. She back-talked teachers, cut slashes in her uniforms to make them more punk, spray-painted graffiti in the bathrooms, and refused to remove her many piercings. The few assignments she handed in during her last year all scored easy As—there just weren’t enough of them to keep her enrolled. Which suited Vivi just fine. Every rock star needed an origin story, and getting kicked out of your £30,000-per-year high school was as good a place to start as any.
They were both like that even then, both already in possession of an alchemical self-confidence that belonged to much older humans. They didn’t care what other people thought of them. They didn’t care what other people thought was cool (which, of course, made them unbearably cool).
They left school—and home—within weeks of each other. Grey was seventeen; Vivi was fifteen. They set off into the world, both bound for the glamorous, exotic futures they’d always known they were destined for. Which is how I found myself alone, the only Hollow left, still struggling to thrive in the long shadows they left behind. The quiet, bright one who loved science and geography and had a natural flair for mathematics. The one who wanted desperately, above all else, to be unremarkable.
Slowly, month by month, year by year, the strangeness that swelled around my sisters began to recede, and for a good long while, my life was what I’d craved ever since I’d seen Grey sedate an intruder with a simple kiss: normal.
It was, of course, not to last. US
|1 × 6 × 9 cm