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The Hollow Places: 11/14/20
The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher captures some of favorite elements of Canadian horror while being set in North Carolina. Kara, recently divorced, has moved in with her uncle to help him run the Glory to God Museum of Natural Wonders, Curiosities, and Taxidermy in Hogs Chapel. To keep busy, she sets about inventorying everything.
Things get strange after the arrival of a wood carving from the Danube river. A hole in the wallboard opens up to a cement lined corridor. Kara with her barista friend Simon, sets off to explore the bunker. Kingfisher weaves together snarky humor into the horror to create a pair of protagonists who are genre aware. Their repartee brings me mind Harriet Hamsterbone and Wilbur if they were human adults. Makes sense as T. Kingfisher is a pseudonym for Ursula Vernon.
At first the tone of the novel reminds me of House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000) for their first foray through the hole in the wall. Once they reach the outside, though, it settles on being more like Three Years with the Rat by Jay Hosking (2017).
The willows are what set the tone shift. That they are living and spreading through shallow water that also has invaded numerous bunkers is what defines them as the tkaronto. It frankly wouldn't surprise me if the protagonist from Hosking's novel also had a bunker among these.
Like Danielewski's and Hosking's novels, The Hollow Places is part of road narrative spectrum. Kara and Simon are a found family of travelers (33). Their destination is utopia (FF), meaning a no place. Their route there and back is through the tkaronto (FF). In other words, this novel is about a found family traveling to utopia via the tkaronto (33FFFF).
While Kara and Simon's adventure is over, I would to revisit the willows from the point of view of another bunker. There's some of that in the bible journal, the lost ranger, and the bus full of kids from some alternate earth. All those stories are over by The Hollow Places but there could be others.