Hollow Earth – John and Carole E Barrowman

“The book the old monk was illuminating began with these words.

THIS Book is about the nature of beasts. 
Gaze upon these pages at your peril

The old monk yawned, his chin dropped to his chest, and his eyes fluttered shut. The quill dropped from from his fingers, leaving a trail of ink like tiny teardrops across the folio.”

Twins Matt and Em can bring things to live through their art, their true power is unknown to them but others understand clearly just how far they are destined to go. When the twins end up inside a painting whilst waiting for their mum to finish a meeting at the National Gallery they don’t understand just how much trouble they could be in for it. Their mum packs up and the three of them leave, quickly, to the safety of a grandfather they never knew they had. However just how safe it is at their grandfathers is unsure when inexplicable things start happening on the Auchinmurn Isle, will the twins really be best protected there? 
When I first heard that Captin Jack and his sister were writing a book I was excited, then I read the blurb and wasn’t as excited anymore, Hollow Earth sounded too high fantasy for me, I wasn’t sure if it was for me. However I knew it was still well worth a read and when the chance to review it and its sequel, Bone Quill, came up I thought what better time to go for it. 
I’m glad I did take the chance because I am on a 9-12 fantasy kick at the minute and I loved the story. Matt and Em are instantly likeable to anyone who can remember being a typical kid, or is a kid themselves. Once they team up with Zach, a boy who lives with his father, Simon, in the twins grandfathers home they are great to follow and I loved their relationship. The story itself is not a nice one and the twins are in danger all the way through, that much is obvious. I liked that the ending was left open but not on a cliffhanger, however it isn’t that happy an ending either so that was refreshing for me.

There were a lot of interesting aspects of the book when it came to the idea of art coming alive and the Hollow Earth society. I really loved the descriptions about what the twins could do and the reasoning why and I really can’t wait to find out more about that in the later book or books. There is a fantastic humour which follows the book and makes light of certain situations in the book and I really liked that when it came to the things that the children could do as well. 
The writing was really good and I could tell in some places where the two writers differed. I believe that most of the actual writing was doe by Carole E Barrowman but the difference is obvious in the personalities of the characters I think. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that John Barrowman had the most input when it came to Matt and Carole, Em, though I may be wrong. I liked the style of writing but in most places it felt very contemporary rather than fantasy and though I didn’t have a problem with this so much I did think it’s style was a little off from its content at times. I am used to 9-12 fantasy being very much story driven, with a narrator style, as if I am actively being told a story, whereas Hollow Earth didn’t have that feel to it. I think that’s probably the biggest downside I had with this book and really, tis just me being picky. 
I will definitely be recommending this book to friends, especially those who enjoy the genre and are fans of John or Carole E Barrowman. I know Carole was a major part of the writing process for John’s biography and I have been meaning to read that for a little while now too so once Bone Quill is read too I may go on to that! 
Hollow Earth was published in February 2012 by Buster Books, a Michael O’Mara Books Ltd imprint. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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  • I really like the look of this, and I thought it would be more Carole than John after having read his autobiographies 😀