The Hollowing by Robert Holdstock

The Hollowing book cover
Rating 9.8/10
The best structured book in the series, with a true destination.

The Hollowing is the fourth book in Robert Holdstock's Ryhope Wood series. The book is set around a year after the events of Lavondyss and follows Alex Bradley and his father Richard’s time in the wood.

With each book in the series we learn more about the way the forest absorbs the thoughts of the inhabitants on the edge of the wood, feeding on their folk memories to bring to life the old stories that time has forgotten. The Hollowing begins with Alex and how after a school play he and his family discover Tallis Keaton’s father on the road - a year after he disappeared - looking no older than he did then.

After a mysterious accident, Alex is lost, believed dead, before his father Richard is drawn into the mysterious wood after hearing and not believing that his son is actually alive. With this book we get a wider mix of characters, as normally the story is focused on the main characters and the mythagos that they surround themselves with. In this story once we are in the woods Richard is surrounded by a group of people who have made it their life's work to discover and record the mysteries of the forest as well as the mythagos around them.

Because of this group, Helen Silverlock, Alexander Lytton and Arnauld Lacan are all in this forest searching for ends to their own stories wand e gain a wider understanding of the way the forest works. Alexander Lytton has been studying the diaries of George Huxley and believes that Alex's being in the forest is destroying George Huxley’s world. Helen Silverlock is part Native American and looking for Coyote the trickster god who has been destroying her family. Arnauld Lacan is looking for his death. With this cast of characters we can see Richard grow from disbelief that his son is in the forest to not only acceptance but growth as a human on a quest to find peace.

Although I have enjoyed all of the books in the series so far this has been the best structured with a true destination to get to after a long struggle encountering many myths that have been twisted for the situation. The character of Richard is very well written and believable as a man grieving for the loss of his son, but also gaining a better understanding of who he is. The series as a whole is gripping and I would say that apart from the short stories in The Bone Forest the books I have read so far should be read in the order that they have been written.

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