When I asked my old editor what her publishing company had been excited about in 2021, she recommended two books, one junior fiction – A Glasshouse of Stars – and the other, House of Hollow, YA. I ordered them both. And both are amazing.
The three Hollow sisters – Grey, Vivi and Iris – disappeared as children. Just like that, on the street in Edinburgh; they were there and then they weren’t. The trio reappeared, naked and with small wounds at the base of their throats, a month later. They were never able to remember what happened to them.
Skip forward a decade. Grey is now a world famous model with her own fashion label and her face on the cover of Vogue magazine. Vivi is a rock star. Iris, the youngest, who narrates the story, is in her last year at school. All three girls are strange; not only arrestingly beautiful, but possessed of a kind of glamour – in the old sense of enchantment. They cast a spell, even when – like Iris – they don’t want to.
When Grey goes missing, Iris and Vivi go looking for her. Only to find out that someone – or something – is on the hunt, too.
And that’s where I should stop, for fear of spoilers. Except to say that this book introduced me to a new sub-genre; body horror. The flowers growing out of live flesh were especially disturbing. The words dark, haunting and chilling come to mind.
I don’t read a lot of YA fiction. I don’t read a lot of horror. I must change my ways. House of Hollow was addictive; a darkly twisted fairytale, an inventive mixture of archetypal and mythic themes entwined in modern lives, written in gorgeous, lush prose. Never have decay and putrescence seemed so deliciously sensual.