I have just finished reading a review copy of The Hollows, the latest book from Mark Edwards. This is definitely one of my favourites of his – possibly even my favourite. I tend to say The Retreat is my favourite – largely because that it was the first one of his that I read and the level of mystery involved – not only in terms of the storyline, but also not knowing what genre the book was (I will re-read The Retreat soon and write a post on it). The only reason why I hesitate on saying The Hollows being my favourite is simply because that I have become so familiar with Mark’s book, I tend to have a feel of where the book may go in terms of style and so it doesn’t have the same level of tension perhaps as when I first read The Retreat. Perhaps when I’ve read The Retreat again, I will feel differently.
There is much that I love about The Hollows. As usual, the characters are wonderful – one the best aspects of Mark’s characters is always how ordinary most of them seem (at least to me) and how much you could imagine yourself being in the situation that the protagonist finds themselves. Perhaps that was all the more the case in this book due to my own research interests relating to “dark tourism” which features throughout the book. If you are not familiar with “dark tourism” (and the concept does get explained more in the novel) it’s where people travel to a place that is connected with death or tragedy. I have looked at this in relation to my research on the flight JL123 crash in particular (see my article in Mortality, ‘Developing a Model to Explain Modifications to Public Transportation Accident Memorials‘ or my book Dealing with Disaster in Japan), so I am familiar with the concept, although I have major reservations about its usage and usefulness.
It was interesting to see in the Acknowledgements that Mark refers to Sarah Lotz – author of The Three and Day Four – that introduced him to the concept; if you’ve not read Sarah’s books, you really should pick those up too.
So, based on my own research, and sites related to death that I have visited, there were elements of The Hollows that hit a little close to the bone for me. That made the book even more enjoyable in an odd masochistic way. As I said, it’s easy to identify with many of the characters in Mark’s books – and I found it particularly easy this time. The only issue I had with any of the characters was the name of one of the main ones – Frankie. As I am spending time on many days writing a book related to Frankie Goes To Hollywood, or Frankie for short, it did lead to some odd associations in my mind.
One thing that I particularly enjoyed about The Hollows were the “Easter Eggs” referring to some of Mark’s other novels. I love these sorts of “Easter Eggs” and have included some in my novels (and also some of my academic books, I guess) – and am particularly happy with a couple of those that I included in my most recent book, FOUR. Mark says at the end of the book that you can email him to check that you spotted them all – a great way to get engagement with your readers, but perhaps having them listed on a website or blog would be easier. I should probably do the same one day – although I have already hinted and commented about some of them in posts about my books (follow the “Easter Eggs” tag).
I really don’t want to say anything more about the plot. It’s a fabulous book and I would urge you to read it. Hopefully we will also get to see it (and Mark’s other books) on the big screen – or at least as a TV adaptation.
The Hollows was another one of those books – like with Shadow of a Doubt by Michelle Davies – where I was desperate to get to the end to find out what happened, but desperately didn’t want it to end as I was enjoying it so much. Having not come across an existing term to describe this feeling, I will called it ‘confliction’ – I would like to drop the ‘l’, to make it ‘confiction’, but perhaps the ‘con’ sounds overly negative.
Here are links to Mark’s other books which I have already written posts about:
For more information about The Hollows see information about the book on Amazon.