The Hollows

Book Review: The Hollows by Jess Montgomery

I fell in love with an earlier fiction book written by author Jess Montgomery under her given name. So of course, when I learned she’d be writing historical fiction under this, her pen name, I promptly ordered the book. That book was The Widows (and fantastic). The Hollows is the second book in her new Kinship series and it did not disappoint. Read on to learn more about this engaging story.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of this novel. Some links in this post are affiliate links that earn me a commission if you purchase through them. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Hollows by Jess MontgomeryThe Hollows by Jess Montgomery
Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group on January 14, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Historical, Women Sleuths
Pages: 352
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Jess Montgomery showcases her skills as a storyteller in The Hollows: a powerful, big-hearted and exquisitely written follow-up to her highly acclaimed debut The Widows.

Ohio, 1926: For many years, the railroad track in Moonvale Tunnel has been used as a shortcut through the Appalachian hills. When an elderly woman is killed walking along the tracks, the brakeman tells tales of seeing a ghostly female figure dressed all in white.

Newly elected Sheriff Lily Ross is called on to the case to dispel the myths. With the help of her friends Marvena Whitcomb and Hildy Cooper, Lily follows the woman’s trail to The Hollows—a notorious asylum—and they begin to expose dark secrets long-hidden by time and the mountains.


Thoughts on The Hollows

I loved THE WIDOWS, so I’ve been looking forward to Jess Montgomery’s second installment in her KINSHIP series. That book – THE HOLLOWS – did not disappoint. I love historical fiction, and the 1926 Appalachian setting is a welcome change. The fact that the characters of Sheriff Lily Ross and Marvena Whitcomb are inspired by two women from Ohio history makes it even more of a delight.

In THE WIDOWS, an elderly woman is found dead, shoeless and in a thin nightgown, apparently having been struck by a train after falling off the top of the train tunnel. Lily dives into the investigation, first to identify her and then to determine if it was suicide or murder, all while preparing for re-election. Her search leads her to an asylum called The Hollows. 

In the course of her investigation, she turns up evidence of the Women’s KKK. This was a part of history I wasn’t aware of. She also addresses other issues prevalent at the time: other issues of racism, prohibition, organizing of the mined, and the pushback of women holding any authority. Both Lily and her friend Hildy (with whom chapters alternate) get constant reminders of a woman’s place (in the home). Lily flies in the face of convention, and Hildy struggles with the idea of marrying for security vs true love. 

It’s a quiet mystery. Montgomery’s pacing is slow (in a good way) and steady, much like I imagine the drawl of the characters. This isn’t a rollercoaster of a tale, despite a dramatic twist or two in the latter half of the book. This is an evocative story that will draw you in with its beautiful language and a solid plot, its interesting, complicated characters, and its richly depicted setting.

While The Hollows is the second book in the Kinship series, Montgomery provides enough backstory that you don’t need to have read The Widows to understand this story. (I daresay this book will make you want to read it if you haven’t already, though!)

Just a gorgeous book with an Appalachian setting I look forward to returning to and engaging characters that I want to visit with again.


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