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A powerful theme of horror fiction is the existence of another world lying just around the corner from the familiar.

Sometimes this other world is metaphorical, and sometimes, as in T. Kingfisher’s “The Hollow Places,” it’s terrifyingly literal.

Protagonist Kara, recently divorced, has moved back home to North Carolina, where she is helping her eccentric Uncle Earl run his storefront museum of oddities and curiosities.

One day, when not bantering with Simon, the goth barista at the coffee shop next door, she discovers a hole in one wall of the museum leading to a hallway that shouldn’t have room to exist inside the building.

What are Kara and Simon to do except to explore the impossible hallway and see what lies beyond the doorway at the other end?

The uncanny region they discover is inspired by Algernon Blackwood’s classic horror story “The Willows,” though Kingfisher makes this terrible place, one of the most famously unwelcoming landscapes in literature, her own.

Kara and Simon are greatly enjoyable characters to spend time with. Both are witty, leading to wonderful dialogues throughout the book, but they also have their own particularities that make them distinct.

The endearing dialogue and character detail perfectly complement the nightmarish other world Kara and Simon find themselves in, making “The Hollow Places” a relative rarity in fiction — a cozy yet chilling horror story.

Caleb Wilson, an employee of the Urbana Free Library, writes weird fantasy fiction. His first book, “Polymer,” was released in 2018. In addition to weird fiction, he also writes weird text-based computer games.

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