Review: “The Triumvirate,” Mary SanGiovanni

Pros: Very alien; tense!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Mary SanGiovanni’s The Triumvirate (The Hollower Trilogy Book 3) is a sequel to The Hollower and Found You. In book one, a faceless figure stalked a handful of people, preying on their insecurities and their fears. They managed to bring it into the realm of the physical and kill it, but its body was retrieved by three other Hollowers. In book two, a Primary came seeking vengeance. It killed mentally ill Sally, then went after the rest. It was better able to affect the physical world than its Secondary had been, but Dave found a way to destroy it in a moment of inspiration. In book three, the Triumvirate of Hollowers arrives. The Likekind wants humanity destroyed, cut off from the Convergence and sealed in with monsters from other dimensions. The Triumvirate has the power to do this, and they’ve come to both avenge the Primary and Secondary and judge whether to wipe out humanity. Jake and Dorrie are found dead from an apparent animal attack, and Steve is ambushed by a monster. New people begin seeing the Triumvirate as well, since the Hollowers still need sustenance while they are here. Nurse Lauren Seavers and teacher Ian Coley join the ranks of the hunted, as does detective Bennie Mendez, Anita DeMarco’s husband. This takes place four years after book two, once Erik and Anita have finally relaxed into the idea that they might be free.

These Hollowers have pets, and can easily rip open the Convergence between worlds, making them all the more dangerous. Again, it’s hard to imagine people defeating them. Our heroes end up traipsing across worlds, and the landscape becomes extremely alien, reminiscent of Thrall. In fact, if you want to get a better sense of the cosmology of SanGiovanni’s other books, this one does take place in the same universe. It gives a much better idea of how our world connects to others, and what sorts of things might inhabit those other worlds. It hints at strange civilizations, extinct races, and ancient artifacts.

Enough characters die horrible deaths that there’s true tension in the question of whether our heroes will make it out of their journey alive. It’s absolutely believable when the characters come close to sitting down and giving up–we get to see their endurance used up as they’re faced with their darkest fears and chased by horrifying creatures. I was riveted to the page as the book went on.

SanGiovanni does a great job of making it believable that the Hollowers take their time killing people. The “black holes” inside of them feed on such emotions as despair, and they need the sustenance while they’re carrying out their task. Nurturing those emotions in people before allowing those people to die is what sustains them. The fact that they’re also wholly incapable of seeing humans as a threat to them also makes sense, since frankly humans shouldn’t be much of a threat to them!

There are a few small inconsistencies. For example, Anita and Bennie’s child is usually referred to as their daughter, but in one section becomes their son. It isn’t a big deal, however.

I loved this trilogy, and I look forward to reading more by Mary SanGiovanni!

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