The Hollow Kind follows generations of the Redfern family as they find themselves haunted by an otherworldly evil. The story is split into two timelines: one timeline follows August Redfern, grandfather to Nellie, starting in 1917 and spanning several decades; and the second timeline takes place in 1989 and follows Nellie and her son Max as they move into their inherited family estate.
In 1989, Nellie has recently discovered that she was left as sole heir to the family turpentine estate and sees this as her opportunity to take her son Max and leave her husband/Max's father and start life anew somewhere else. Upon arriving at the estate, however, Nellie and Max both slowly begin to realize that something at the house holds a dark and discontent feeling that threatens their attempts at a new beginning. The earlier timeline follows August Redfern's life on the turpentine estate and the many perilous ups and downs that occurred during his lifetime. I found it really interesting and helpful to get this insight in August's life, including meeting his wife, children, and the other important people in his life. There is an ever-present eeriness in both timelines, but the earlier timeline definitely shows more origins of that and feels somewhat more mysterious and terrifying in its own right.
I found myself much more engaged in the 1989 storyline because Max and Nellie were personally more compelling and I liked seeing what was going on with the house at this later time. I also really liked seeing Nellie and Max as a team trying to get by. Nellie is a tough character who comes across as someone who doesn't like to show a lot of her feelings to just anyone, but rather works hard to appear strong and prepared, especially in front of her son. This doesn't make her closed off to him, however, and in fact I really liked seeing the moments when Nellie was very straightforward with Max and didn't shy away from realities just because he was a kid, all without burdening him too much with things because he is, of course, still a kid. Max is very perceptive and immediately sense that something about the house is not right, but seeing his mom's hope for this new place causes him to give it a chance.
There are so many creeping elements that make this book such a strong horror pick, including an mystifying woods and an otherworldly sense of something wrong. In addition to this type of horror, however, are plenty of characters in this book who have done terrible things and are capable of doing terrible things. It's these characters that really help build an overall sense of unease and terror throughout the story.
Although this story is meant to be unfolded at a slower pace that worked really well and excelled in developing a gradual unveiling, I did think that there were some parts that dragged on just a little too much. I found this occurred more often in the older timelines than the 1989 one–which is possibly why I was more drawn to the 1989 timeline–and these are the times when I found my attention waining ever so slightly. This happened the most right around the halfway points and a little after; I found the beginning and ending of The Hollow Kind to be very strong.
Overall, I've given The Hollow Kind four stars! I really liked this atmospheric epic horror that covered multiple generations of a family story and will be checking out more of Andy Davidson's work.
*I received a copy of The Hollow Kind courtesy of MCD in exchange for an honest review.*