Fiction Reviews

The Dark and Hollow Places

(2011) Carrie Ryan, Gollancz, 9.99, hrdbk, 376pp, ISBN 978-1-0-575-09483-3


Annah is a survivor in the Dark City settlement of what used to be New York, but now this is after the Return and the rise of the Unconsecrated. Annah's partner has left the city on a foraging mission but his return is now long overdue. Meanwhile it is clear that the Dark City is dying. Old New York has been scavenged of anything worthwhile and so the settlement must get supplies from outside. Meanwhile it is only a matter of time before what's left of the make-shift infrastructure fails to a point where life is unsustainable. Annah decides to leave. However just as she is going through 'security' she sees someone all too like her sister she previously lost years ago entering the other way. She makes a break for it but gets caught up when a group of the Unconsecrated manage to get through. In the height of her escape, she meets the mysterious 'Catcher', someone who is adept at going outside foraging. What she does not know is that those who control the colony value Catcher for abilities she does not comprehend. Meanwhile a hoard of the Unconsecrated arrive and the Dark City's end is in sight. The only place left is one of the smaller islands off of New York but this place is only for the ruling elite and forbidden for the likes of Annah...

The Dark and Hollow Places can be easily read as a stand-alone story even though it is the third book in the trilogy that began with the Forest of Hands and Teeth: I know having missed out on the second in the series, The Dead Tossed Waves. Furthermore, it is a fine story that can be equally enjoyed by adults as well juvenile, teenage readers.   All well and good. Having said that there is currently a veritable glut of post-apocalyptic zombie stories, many of which are as good as The Dark and Hollow Places.   What made The Forest of Hands and Teeth a cut above the hoard of zombie novels that have taken over bookshops' shelves, is that that story did not reveal what was going on straightaway: you had to discover, or work out, that that tale was set in the future, that there had been an apocalypse, and that this was caused by the rise of zombies.   Alas, with that reveal now gone with the first book, and it being clear from chapter one of The Dark and Hollow Places as to the current set-up, there is nothing new for readers into which to get their teeth... (if you can forgive that allusion when reviewing a zombie novel).   Nonetheless, The Dark and Hollow Places is a perfectly satisfactory novel in its own terms. While those with a broader genre readership may not have the reading time to seek this one out, those whose passion is more focussed on the current penchant for zombies will certainly enjoy The Dark and Hollow Places.

Jonathan Cowie

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