The book starts off as a traditional suspense novel and then takes a hard-left turn into del Toro territory ... The central aesthetic decision—merging the classical horrors of Algernon Blackwood with a distinctly contemporary narrative—is both surprising and ultimately successful. The Hollow Ones is a swift, thoroughly imagined entertainment that looks back at the genre’s past while hinting, in the final pages, of future installments to come. The possibilities are limitless.
... a bit complicated, but suffice it to say there’s a good bit of world building behind the strange goings-on, which all leads up to a modern-day, high-stakes pursuit by Odessa and Silence to capture the entity before it can do more harm ... has TV series written all over it. At the very least, it promises to be the first in a new series of literary adventures, and that’s a good thing, as Silence is a fascinating character you’ll want to see again.
... gripping but slight ... A dark spirit driving people to murder is the premise of countless horror mysteries, and Hollow Ones unfortunately offers little new to this well-worn subject ... Efforts to deepen Hardwicke and Blackwood's backstories are also only surface level, as each wrestle with respective personal demons involving an estranged father and lost love. Their partnership is similarly riddled with cliches – she's green and asks too many questions, he's broody and difficult to work with – although the novel's open-ended conclusion suggests more Hardwicke & Blackwood stories are possible, hopefully enlivening their relationship ... All that said, The Hollow Ones is never dull, dropping readers right into the action and deftly switching between timelines. At just over 300 pages, the book is a lean and macabre page-turner, as del Toro and Hogan spare no bloody details in describing heinous murders and occult rituals. (Passages told from the perspective of the demon, named Obediah, are among the most ferociously fun) ... But for all its entertaining chills, The Hollow Ones never really gets under your skin. Much like a malevolent spirit being exorcised, it won't linger long in readers' minds.
Fans of Oscar-winner Guillermo del Toro — the co-writer with Chuck Hogan — will appreciate the focus on the monsters at the center of the tale ... The book is a quick read, with propulsive action and just enough explication to keep readers interested ... del Toro and Hogan ground the story in just enough reality to keep you turning the pages. The relationship between Hardwicke and the dying Solomon feels real, as their twin investigations drive them deeper into a world of grave robbings, iron cauldrons and a reliance on the centuries-old wisdom of the mysterious Mr. Blackwood.
Anyone who has ever witnessed an abrupt personality change in an acquaintance and wondered Why did they do that? will find much to love here. Del Toro and Hogan borrow just a bit from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos while invigorating it enough to draw the curious back to the source material. One could be forgiven for thinking that The Hollow Ones would be a better screenplay than a novel (not that there is anything wrong with that), but horror fans who read this occasionally shocking tale will be back for seconds ... not a bad way at all to scare yourself silly.
The authors have presented us with a great premise and interesting characters, along with a promise of much more to come (the subtitle is The Silence Tapes Book 1), but the plot for this novel feels more like an origin story, a John Silence Issue #1 comic book, than a solidly crafted novel that could stand on its own merits if something happened and the authors never got around to Issue #2 ... The secondary story thread that dips back into the 16th century to trace John Silence’s beginnings is a bit clunky and over-written. The thread that follows the early career of FBI agent Earl Solomon, however, a Black rookie sent to the Mississippi Delta in 1962 to investigate the strange lynching of a white man, is much better. Solomon jumps off the page, the scenes are tight and suspenseful, and it reads very quickly ... Odessa broadcasts a high level of skepticism on all wavebands. It goes on for too long, though, and at times it feels as though the authors are shooting for a Bogart-Hepburn type of back-and-forth between her and Silence. Unfortunately, it misses on dramatic edginess and strays into irritating and distracting debates between the two that go nowhere. Silence remains cryptic while Odessa is just really, really pissed off ... Nevertheless, The Hollow Ones features some good writing, with a few similes and metaphors that will bring the pencil up to the page for quick underlining ... Despite its Issue #1 thinness and somewhat uneven development, The Hollow Ones is definitely recommended reading for everyone with a taste for occult detective fiction featuring a great premise, interesting characters, and a tantalizing promise of more to follow.
Del Toro and Hogan pay homage to the occult detective stories of Algernon Blackwood while offering an original speculative thriller for today ... A shifting time frame fills in the backstories of Silence, Solomon, and even the Hollow Ones while also generating palpable suspense. The details of this compellingly paced novel allow readers to become wholly invested in the story’s well-crafted sense of dread and in the odd-couple pairing of Hardwicke and Blackwood. A great choice for fans of popular speculative investigative series like those of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Agent Pendergast and Christopher Golden’s Ben Walker and for fans of occult thrillers, like T. Kingfisher’s The Twisted Ones (2019), that nod to past horror masters.
... a welcome gift to disciples of Lovecraft-ian fiction ... Readers of occult fiction from Poe to Richard Kadrey will instantly recognize the creepy vibes and likely enjoy the ride ... An inventive and macabre new spin on malevolent body snatchers.