Review: The Hollower

Posted: 08/04/2015 in book reviews, books
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The Hollower
The Hollower by Mary SanGiovanni

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Content warnings: mentions of childhood sexual assault, ableism (calling mentally ill people broken and damaged), mental torture, childhood abuse, and drug use/recovery.

This was….quite different from any other horror book I’ve ever read. I’ve mostly only read Barker (but occasionally listen to King). I like it. I also like that it didn’t have a happy ending. They think they have a happy ending but they don’t really.

And I have a hunch that the Slenderman mythos was based on this book (especially since this was written and published well before Slenderman was conceived). Since the hollower is described as being a tall figure with a white blank face (blank meaning no features whatsoever) and a fedora (described as the type you’d see Humphrey Bogart wear) and a black jacket with black gloves.

From this point on will be spoilers since I can’t talk about this book without spoilers (well I could but it wouldn’t be very good).

So I really don’t like that they have one of the main female characters (Cheryl) suffer from sexual assault as a child. Basically she had a strange guy come up to her one day when she was out swimming and tell her that she was pretty and such and to let him dry her off and bribed her with a doll. It’s only stated as he dried her and touched her and dried her and touched her. I’m honestly kind of sick of books of all genres picking a female to have had some sort of sexual assault happen to her. It puts a damper on my enjoyment of the book. I find it to be overly clichéd. I mean at least it had a purpose to it and wasn’t just thrown in as a back story for the hell of it. Because the hollower torments her with the memories of it but it still bothers me.

I like the idea of a faceless entity using people’s pain and problems to further torment them.

Erik was a cocaine user who is going through rehab and I liked that the author put through how hard the temptation was for him to go back to using. But that he had his own reasons that he wanted to fight through the addiction and get better. The hollower frequently used the former cocaine addiction to try and get Erik to destroy himself and used the fact that his dad was an abusive shit stain to try and get him to destroy himself.

I like the female cop being intelligent and relying on hunches to understand what’s going on and how the cases are all connected. And that she’s not being shamed for it.

I don’t like the main character’s sister being called broken and damaged. She has some sort of mental illness and as such needs a caregiver so she’s mostly in assisted living/hospitals. Which is fine because that does happen. But Dave, her brother, calls her broken and damaged. And it’s frustrating because mentally ill people are not broken or damaged. Their brains are just douchebags to them and make it hard to function like “normal” people. The idea that mentally ill people are broken and/or damaged needs to die a horribly excruciating death in a fire.

Dave, the main-main character, appears to be kind of an alcoholic. I DO like that the book showed that after he was drinking a lot at the bar he chose not to drive home and instead to walk. Smarter choices and all.

And then we have the little boy. Who is afraid as hell of bugs. I admire his bravery in trying to defeat his monsters. I also like that he’s not diminished for just being an 11 year old boy. That he’s the one who notices that the street isn’t his street and causes the rest of them to notice the things that are off. Like all the houses having the same number on them. And the cars being not really their cars. I like that he’s the one who noticed and when pointing it out to the adults they actually listened and paid attention to what he was saying and pointing out.

I also like the idea that there’s more than one hollower and that the third one who said found you (which I entirely read it in River’s voice from Firefly when she says that to Simon in the episode that they get captured by the hill folk), even though it’s disgusted by humans, is stalking them and giving them a false sense of security. So even though they think they’re free and clear, they aren’t really. It’s a nice ending that isn’t a happy ending even though happy things are happening for the characters.

All in all, it doesn’t necessarily freak me out or anything especially when I read it (nor does it thinking about it after the fact) but I can easily see it doing so to others who have a reasonable reaction to fear/scary things (because I really don’t unless you count laughter at fear and being scared as reasonable). I can see it getting into someone’s mind and creeping them out days, weeks, even months later. And I like the idea that a story can do that.

Buy it here:

Amazon|Barnes & Noble

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