The Hollowsby Jess Montgomery (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Series: Kinship Series #2
Published by Minotaur Books on January 14, 2020
Genres: Adult, Crime, Family, Friendship, Historical, Murder, Mystery & Detective, Social Issues, Suspense
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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, but Lily does not believe that an old woman would wander out of the hills onto the tracks. In a county where everyone knows everyone, how can someone have disappeared, when nobody knew they were missing? As ghost stories and rumors settle into the consciousness of Moonvale Hollow, Lily tries to search for any real clues to the woman’s identity.
With the help of her friend Marvena Whitcomb, Lily follows the woman’s trail to The Hollows—an asylum is northern Antioch County—and they begin to expose secrets long-hidden by time and the mountains.
Looking back on my review of book one in the Kinship series, The Widows, I see that I started off the last new year with this excellent series. Introducing Lily Ross, who takes over her husband’s job as sheriff of her Ohio county in the 1920s after his untimely murder, I devoured the first book as I got to know Lily and the people around her. I loved the scenery, the much harder yet simpler life of the early twentieth century, and I felt so deeply for Lily as she struggled to juggle the demands of her new job and her home life with small children that depend on her. While the first book focused on Lily and equally smart and strong coal mining union organizer/moonshiner Marvena Whitcomb, the next book, The Hollows gives us a deeper look into the struggles that Lily faces now that she’s been on the job for a few years–and she was elected by the public this time. But we now get to hear the inner workings of Lily’s best friend/jail mistress, Hildy, and her seemingly quiet life is far from peaceful. And this was a great way to start this new year with what has fast become my favorite historical series.
Sheriff Lily Ross is called out to Moonvale Tunnel railroad tracks, where an elderly woman has been struck by the freight train that travels through late at night. As Lily tracks down the truth as to the woman’s identity, where she came from, and why she was on the tracks in the dark, her investigation leads her to some ugly truths about the climate of hateful people in and around their town of Kinship. When Hildy is asked to make a sketch of the woman’s face to accompany the article that she’ll write asking for any information about the woman for the newspaper, she makes a connection with the woman. Hildy needs to get to the bottom of this just as much as Lily does.
Lily has to juggle the intricacies of a reelection campaign, being a working mother with crazy hours, along with finally dealing with her grief from the death of her husband. I really loved the new depths we get to see to Lily’s character. She’s really struggling with keeping it all together, and her professionalism at work is winning out at the expense of her home life. It was great to see that Lily and Marvena have a great friendship, and the past hurts between them involving Lily’s husband are behind them. Marvena definitely pushes this story forward with her feet in the seedier parts of the county, and she seems to know what’s going on everywhere.
Hildy has remained unattached since her fiance Roger died in the war some years before, but she is now engaged to the much older grocery store owner–whom her mother says Hildy should be grateful would even have her. Hildy feels invisible and only there to serve her stubborn, judgemental mother, and she certainly doesn’t want to marry Merle Douglas. But coal miner Tom Whitcomb makes her feel like the only woman on earth that matters, and a dalliance with him would surely be a mistake even if it was born out of love. Feeling left out since Lily is spending so much time with Marvena, she’s looking for meaning in her life, and her search leads her straight into danger.
I give The Hollows a five out of five. I enjoyed this second installment more than the first one. Lily is more comfortable in the role of sheriff, but adversity against women and their “rightful” place in society is something that she comes up against time and time again over the course of this series–all the women in this book do. Jess Montgomery’s writing is strong, flowing, and just draws you right in. As with the first book, corruption features prominently but with a new heaping of hate-fueled women. I never knew that their was a women’s section of the KKK, and I do know thanks to this book. I can’t wait to see what Sheriff Lily Ross investigates next and what part of history Jess Montgomery brings to life.
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About Jess Montgomery
JESS MONTGOMERY is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News and Executive Director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Based on early chapters of The Widows, Jess was awarded an Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant for literary arts and the John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus. She lives in her native state of Ohio.
Find Jess Montgomery
Jess Montgomery’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for THE HOLLOWS:
Monday, January 13th: Amy’s Book-et List
Tuesday, January 14th: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, January, 15th: @bibliolau
Monday, January 20th: @thebookclubmom
Monday, January 20th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, January 21st: @giuliland
Tuesday, January 21st: Booked on a Feeling
Wednesday, January 22nd: Buried Under Books
Thursday, January 23rd: The Lit Bitch
Friday, January 24th: Jathan & Heather
Monday, January 27th: Into the Hall of Books
Tuesday, January 28th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Thursday, January 30th: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, January 30th: @jessicamap
Friday, January 31st: Reading Reality
Wednesday, February 5th: Books and Bindings
Friday, February 7th: Bookish Bliss and Beauty