Title: The Hollow Ones.
Writer(s): Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan.
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing.
Format: Advance Review Copy.
Release Date: June 23rd 2020.
Genre(s): Horror, Fantasy, Mystery.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
There are horrifying things that humankind has seen occur throughout history. From a single heinous and passionate crime to mass-killings making us wonder if we’ll ever be able to prevent these horrors from taking place, evil takes on new forms that simply astonish the most seasoned veterans in the field of crime investigation. But what if the cause of such terrors is beyond Man’s reach? What if there are supernatural forces at play that provoke these incidences against our own will? Authors of the New York Times bestselling The Strain trilogy (also an FX TV series that aired from 2014 to 2017) Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan return to write a brand-new novel where a mysterious entity might be at the heart of gruesome crimes throughout history and one man older than time itself might be humanity’s only hope to stopping it from taking more innocent lives.
What is The Hollow Ones about? Rookie FBI agent Odessa Hardwicke and her partner Walt Leppo chase after a rampaging murderer heading towards his final targets after having taken multiple lives already. On the scene, the young and new recruit is forced to turn her gun on her partner who acts suspiciously as he attempts to apprehend the murderer. During the tragedy, she noticed a shadowy presence exiting her partner’s body that she is unable to rationalize and explain to her comrades, ultimately forcing her to be placed on desk leave. It is upon meeting agent Earl Solomon, the very first Afro-American FBI agent, as well as the mysterious John Silence that she is led down an eerie and occult trail to hunt down an unspeakable evil.
“A dark boundary was trespassed. Two men emerged from it unchanged. One did not.”
— Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan
Based on author Algernon Blackwood’s character of the same name John Silence, the duo brings us an occult detective tale that is relatively refreshing and fast-paced. The story unfolds through multiple timelines with one of them focusing on Odessa Hardwicke’s modern-day predicament as a rookie under investigation who is trying to understand the mysterious sighting she witnessed during the apprehension of the rampaging murderer. A second narrative focuses on the earlier days of agent Earl Solomon as he investigates the lynching of a white man and meets the strange yet quintessential John Silence who might be the key to solving his case. The third point of view is a sparse insight into the mysterious Hollow One that allow the reader to discover its origin, essence, and purpose.
As much as I’d like to admit that it was a breeze to go through this, it remains flawed in its simplicity. Not a single character in this story was developed and given any depth as they embark on this journey to discover the obscure creature, a creature that essentially remains the main mystery of this story. While some interactions with John Silence were entertaining, the other characters had no charisma to allow the reader to form any attachment with them. The pacing of the story also failed to establish any true momentum, often losing itself in dull interactions or boring detours. While its shorter length somewhat worked in its favour, further developing the mystical elements could’ve helped in establishing the desired horror tone that was unfortunately nonexistent in the end.
The Hollow Ones is a gripping yet poorly-developed occult detective tale featuring the mysterious John Silence.