Review: The Hollow Ones by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

A horrific crime that defies ordinary explanation.
A rookie FBI agent in dangerous, uncharted territory.
An extraordinary hero for the ages.

Odessa Hardwicke’s life is derailed when she’s forced to turn her gun on her partner, Walt Leppo, a decorated FBI agent who turns suddenly, inexplicably violent while apprehending a rampaging murderer. The shooting, justified by self-defense, shakes the young FBI agent to her core. Devastated, Odessa is placed on desk leave pending a full investigation. But what most troubles Odessa isn’t the tragedy itself-it’s the shadowy presence she thought she saw fleeing the deceased agent’s body after his death.

Questioning her future with the FBI and her sanity, Hardwicke accepts a low-level assignment to clear out the belongings of a retired agent in the New York office. What she finds there will put her on the trail of a mysterious figure named John Blackwood, a man of enormous means who claims to have been alive for centuries, and who is either an unhinged lunatic, or humanity’s best and only defense against unspeakable evil.

From the authors who brought you The Strain Trilogy comes a strange, terrifying, and darkly wondrous world of suspense, mystery, and literary horror. THE HOLLOW ONES is a chilling, spell-binding tale, a hauntingly original new fable from Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro and bestselling author Chuck Hogan featuring their most fascinating character yet.

The Hollow Ones by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Book # 1 in the Blackwood Tapes series. Audiobook run time is 9 hours and 16 mins. Published by Grand Central Publishing, June 23, 2020. *Possible Triggers: Child death, racism.

*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Let’s get the elephant in the room talked about right away. This is NOT the strain. It feels like a lot of people are really disappointed in The Hollow Ones because it is not the same feel as The Strain. And it’s true, it’s not. It doesn’t even really feel like it’s by the same authors. BUT…. The Strain is straight up ghastly bloody horror. Hollow is much more of a nod to OLD school Victorian occult detective novels, but set in a modern era. Those old occult novels were much slower with not as much action as books today. It is a much different beast all together, and it is a little unfair to compare the two different books. Del Toro is such a big fan of retro horror, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he was into Victorian occult novels and detectives. I admit though, that if you are a big fan of his work and The Strain trilogy, it is hard NOT to constantly think about the differences or similarities between the two books.

I really like the concept for this story. Very interesting and it gave me enough of a mystery to keep me going through the book. I do feel like I didn’t really get to know the main characters enough even though the plot is filled with set up. By the time the book was over, I only had an inkling of what the characters were like. I also thought the creature concepts were interesting, but they too didn’t feel fully explored. I wished we had only focused on one creature and get told it’s story fully, instead of doing multi-creatures in book 1.

The Hollow Ones takes place in 3 different eras with new sets of characters for each era. Sometimes it was a little difficult for me, not to keep up, but to remember where which era left off where. The story following Blackwood’s era was a little bit confusing to me. :/ I wasn’t totally 100% sure of the why’s and the what’s about his role in everything. I mean, I get what his job title was, but it just felt like …. I don’t know… maybe it wasn’t really explained all the way or something?

The narrator did a very nice job. She was extremely convincing in the role of Odessa, and she had a lot of variety between the characters. Some people can’t pull off age differences very well, but the narrator did a pretty spot on cadence and flow for both young and old. I had never heard this narrator before. I would have no problem listening to her again.

It felt like Hollow Ones had a lot more set up then answers. I don’t know how the authors work out who does what with their books, but it did feel like del Toro was more hands off on this one? I don’t know for sure, but I would be curious to know if he was as involved as this novel as their previous collaborations? I was entertained, but I didn’t feel as WOWed as normal with something from these guys. I will be interested in book 2, just to see what the next one is like, but it wasn’t an instant MUST READ STAT!!!! situation. Still a decent book, just not as exciting as their other stuff.


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