The Hollow Ground follows Brigid, an Irish coal miner’s daughter who is running from a hundred year old curse. In the debut novel, the environmental catastrophe of underground mine fires in Pennsylvania coal country mirror the devastation in Brigid’s dysfunctional family. When the ground caves beneath the Howleys and swallows up their favorite auntie and whatever small amount of stability they had left, Brigid, her brother, mother, and disabled father are forced to return to live with her paternal grandparents and confront a mess of lies, murders, and buried hard feelings.
The strength of this book lies in the 1960s mining town settings and in the characterization of the girl at the center of the action. Some of the plot devices seem contrived (such as the use of the supernatural in the Barrentown setting) and formulaic, as do some of the characters. This book was a quick read, and fun while it lasted, but not particularly memorable afterwards. A good airplane book.