Author: Rebecca Podos
Released: January 26th 2016
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Length: 304 pages
Source: Publisher for review
The opening chapter of The Mystery of Hollow Places promises a story filled with paranormal mysteries and excitement. It’s one of the best prologues I’ve read in a while and it easily made me want to read the rest in one sitting. I adore atmospheric, creepy mysteries, and I was hoping this would be one. The rest of the book, however, continued in a very different tone.All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when Imogene was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy what came after. Mostly I liked it because of Imogen Scott, a main character that carries the book easily with the depth of her personality. I wanted to know more about Imogen from the very beginning. She is an unusual girl, a bit of an outsider, with only one friend she seems to trust. After growing up with her father’s forensic mysteries and his struggles with bipolar disorder, she’s very mature and she can be a bit odd and closed off sometimes. When her father disappears, Immy has a single goal – to find him, no matter what it takes. Influenced by his mysteries and his main character, the forensic pathologist, she thinks it’s her job and hers alone to find out where her father has gone. But the mystery of his disappearance is wrapped up in her mother’s abandonment, so Imogen first has to find a woman she doesn’t even remember, and uncover the truth of her parents’ relationship.
The Mystery of Hollow Places is in many ways a strange book. It goes in many different directions and it’s difficult to determine what it’s really about. There were several things I enjoyed thoroughly, starting with Rebecca Podos’ subtle and beautiful writing. I loved how she weaved her story with seeming ease. Nothing about it seemed artificial or forced, and I admire the deep understanding behind each sentence. Characterization is what makes this book strong and memorable, starting (but not ending) with Immy Scott.
Aside from the characters and the writing, though, nothing about this book stood out. The mystery itself was mild and fairly uninteresting. I didn’t read to learn the truth, I read to learn about Imogen and her fascinating thought process. So if you take this book as a mystery of any kind, you might be disappointed, but if you appreciate a very well done coming of age story and mature, beautiful characters, this might just be the book for you.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.