Mandy Reviews: Carrie Ryan - "The Dark and Hollow Places"
The Dark and Hollow Places is the second companion book to Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth. That story was told from Mary’s point of view, and the follow-up companion, The Dead Tossed Waves from that of her daughter, Gabry. This time around, we get to go inside the mind of Annah – Gabry’s long lost twin sister.
Many years ago, a too-young-to-know-better Annah and Elias left her sister alone in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, not realising they’d be lost never find her again. We already know from the second book what the outcome for Gabry was; but what happened to Annah? Well, she never got over it. The Dark and Hollow Places picks up with a grown Annah, alone in the Dark City for three years after Elias joins the Protectorate, hoping to secure a better future for both of them. The guilt of leaving her twin to the mobs of the Unconsecrated, alone and unprotected has taken its toll on her, to the point where her self-loathing is tangible. Every moment in the City is life threatening; the constant moans of the undead never far away, and lawlessness prevails for those still living. Due to her street smarts and the scars from a childhood accident, Annah manages to keep her head down, surviving alone, not speaking to anyone and with no friends or acquaintances. Only survival matters… and the hope that Elias will one day come home.
One day, tired of her non-existence, Annah decides to leave the city. It’s only on her way out that she sees a girl in the distance with her own face – a face free from scars. She knows there’s only one person it could possibly be – her long-lost sister.
This series has got better and better with each instalment. I’ve mentioned before (in my review of Dead Tossed Waves) that I didn’t enjoy The Forest of Hands and Teeth at all, though the second book really grabbed me. This time around, the story did more than that. Annah’s voice is so crisp and clear, that her skewed view of the world around her is perfectly understandable, and that’s without the zombie-factor. This is a story about a person who is broken, both inside and out, and the strength she manages to dig from deep inside. The Dark and Hollow Places is certainly the darkest of the three books, but in many ways also the most enlightening. It addresses the heartbreak of rejection, love and loss from a completely honest point of view, as well as the guilt that comes from one of the most destructive emotions of all – jealousy. Annah could be so easy to dislike, yet her ability and tenacity and sheer will to learn to love again makes her a very special character who will stay with you for a very long time.
Admittedly, I felt there were some pacing problems with this book, it could get a little frustrating and slow in places, but it’s absolutely worth preserving. Carrie Ryan wraps up this series very neatly with a knock-out finale that leaves you contemplating what if? long after the final page is turned.
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Published by Gollanz
ISBN – 978 0 575 09484 0
Paperback, 376 pages.