Book Review: Hollow Earth by Carole E. Barrowman and John Barrowman

Hollow Earth is an upcoming children’s novel by authors John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman.  The book is scheduled for release in the United States on October 30, 2012 but was released in the United Kingdom in February of 2012.

If you think you may recognize the names of the authors, you are probably correct.  John Barrowman is an actor, singer, and theater performer who is widely known to American audiences for his role as Captain Jack Harkness on “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood.”  John will also have a recurring role in the CW’s new show “Arrow” (based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow).  Carole E. Barrowman is a professor of English at Alverno College in Milwaukee, WI, crime fiction columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and reviewer for the Minnesota Star Tribune.  She also appears regularly on the Milwaukee NBC affiliate’s morning show to discuss books.

With these impressive author credentials, I was very eager to read this book.  I was so eager, in fact, that I couldn’t wait for the US release.  While in London over Labor Day weekend, I conveniently came across a Waterstones book store and was happy to find a copy in stock.  I immediately dove into the book upon my return to the US.

In an effort to avoid spoilers for US readers, I will avoid anything more than a very basic overview.

Hollow Earth is the story of 12-year old twins Matt and Emily Calder, who have grown up in London under the care of their artist mother.  The children’s father abandoned the family when the twins were toddlers, and they have not heard from him since.  Matt and Em are aware that they are different from other children.  They are able to communicate telepathically and are able to bring their drawings to life.  While they realize these talents aren’t normal, they don’t seem to realize just how different they are until the day they accidentally demonstrate these abilities in public.  Immediately following this inadvertent display, a mysterious group of people attempts to seize the twins, causing the Calders to flee to the protection of the twins’ grandfather in Scotland.  It is there that the twins’ grandfather introduces them to what their powers truly are.  Matt and Em also learn of the mystical place called Hollow Earth.  Legend claims that Hollow Earth is where demons and other evil beings are trapped.  There are those who believe the special powers possessed by Matt and Em are the key to unlocking Hollow Earth, and the twins soon learn just how desperate those people are.

While I would love to go into more detail, I will leave my overview at that until more US readers have had a chance to read the book.

Hollow Earth is one of those children’s books that I can easily see having mass appeal to the adult market.  The plot is complex enough to keep an older reader interested, yet is still basic enough for an older child to follow.  This is a great book for parents and children to enjoy together.   The fast pace makes it difficult to tear yourself away; I found myself abandoning several things I “should have” been doing because I wanted to finish the book NOW.

I give this book a big thumbs up and am crossing my fingers for a sequel.

You can find out more about the novel at