Book Review: The Hollow Ones by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan (ALC)

The Hollow Ones

Author: Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan

Narrator: Brittany Pressley

Publication Date: 04 August 2020

Genre: Adult Fiction – Supernatural Thriller

Length: 9 hours 15 minutes

Publisher: Hachette Audio

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. 

I’ll be honest, I needed The Hollow Ones as soon as I found out that it was by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan because The Strain Trilogy is one of my all-time favorite series. That being said, I definitely thought The Hollow Ones lacked the magic of The Strain Trilogy, but it was still very enjoyable nonetheless!

Before I even get into the review of this one, I want to make it clear that Brittany Pressley absolutely nails the narration for this one. She definitely enhanced my experience of this one.

This story opens up with a bang. FBI agent Odessa Hardwicke is called to a gruesome crime scene with her partner Walt Leppo. When Odessa watches her partner attempt to murder one of the victims, she has no choice but to fire. Odessa recalls some strange changes that happened right after she shot her partner, but it must’ve been her senses playing tricks on her.

I loved the whole police procedural set up that we started with. It was very much high stakes, and I was very much invested in the whole supernatural storyline. However, that came to a crashing halt in the second portion of the book when we meet Hugo Blackwood. I still can’t really wrap my head around his character because he’s purposefully mysterious and obtuse…but to the point that I felt like it detracted from the story line.

I have a love/hate relationship with Odessa and this boils down to her denial of the supernatural even when she is faced with the supernatural. I understand always wanting concrete evidence and explanations for everything but at some points I did feel that this was to her detriment when it came to this specific case.

One of the characters that I really loved in this story was Earl. We were privileged to read both his present and past timelines. It was refreshing reading about a Black man as an FBI agent in the 1960s and the racial implications of that. He had run ins with racist local jurisdictions and the KKK. I felt that his POV breathed life into this story.

My biggest criticism of this book was Blackwood. The first half of the book did a fantastic job of straddling the whole police procedural and supernatural realm, but once Blackwood got involved, I think the waters were muddied too much for my taste.

One last thing that is in true del Toro and Hogan fashion in that they do not hold back from the gruesome scenes. There are definitely some incredibly graphic murder scenes in this one, so just keep this in mind.

Thank you to Hachette Audio for providing an ALC through NetGalley. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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