Holly by Stephen King 

Read Time:3 Minute, 40 Second

When Penny Dahl seeks Finders Keepers detective agency’s help to find her missing daughter, Holly hesitates due to personal challenges. Her partner is battling Covid, her mother just passed away, and she’s supposed to be on leave. However, Penny’s desperation compels Holly to take the case. Nearby, Professors Rodney and Emily Harris appear to be a typical elderly couple, but they hide a sinister secret linked to Bonnie’s disappearance. Uncovering their malevolent plot becomes a daunting task for Holly, as the cunning and ruthless professors test her formidable skills in Stephen King’s chilling new masterpiece.

Book review of Holly

Before delving into my review of Stephen King’s latest novel, “Holly,” it’s crucial to highlight some trigger warnings for potential readers. The story touches on sensitive topics such as homophobia, the COVID-19 pandemic, cannibalism, politics, racism, sexual harassment, rape, abortion, cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and school shootings. If any of these themes are triggering for you, it might be best to steer clear of this book.

Now, onto the book itself. Stephen King, now in his mid-70s, continues to produce high-quality novels, a testament to his enduring talent. Despite any personal reservations about his political views and COVID-related themes, King’s impact on the horror genre is undeniable. He’s been crafting captivating stories for over five decades, and his creative prowess remains undiminished.

As for the trigger warnings mentioned earlier, they didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. King skillfully weaves a multi-layered narrative filled with subtle references to pop culture, including nods to “The Princess Bride,” “Blood Red Sky,” “Freddy Krueger,” “Carrie,” and “The Haunting of Hill House.” These references added depth to the story, particularly for fans of King’s extensive body of work.

The novel’s introduction is a wild ride, with King injecting a grotesque twist that elicited a range of facial expressions from this reader. It was a joy to revisit Holly Gibney, a beloved character, and witness her character development. Exploring Holly’s backstory and her evolution was a highlight, providing a deeper understanding of her complex personality. Holly’s handling of grief, juxtaposed with her investigative endeavors, is both engrossing and relatable. It reminds us that even the strongest and most enigmatic individuals are not immune to the impact of loss.

The suspense in “Holly” is relentless, and King masterfully incorporates updates on Jerome and Barbara, offering a satisfying connection to his previous works. This underscores the importance of reading the five novels that precede “Holly” to fully appreciate the depth of the characters and their journeys.

The climax and ending are nothing short of fantastic, with formidable antagonists and a gratifying resolution that leaves readers cheering.

Final verdict

While some may find it polarizing due to its contemporary themes, “Holly” by Stephen King is a gripping, dark, and realistic tale. Holly’s evolution as a character is both impressive and relatable, making her one of King’s most memorable creations. This novel is a must-read for horror enthusiasts, as it offers a thought-provoking and chilling experience that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.

Our Score


  • “Holly” offers in-depth character development, particularly for the titular character, Holly Gibney. Readers witness her evolution and vulnerability, making her a relatable and captivating protagonist.
  • Stephen King’s ability to maintain a relentless sense of suspense throughout the novel is a major pro. The story keeps readers on the edge of their seats, eager to uncover the mysteries and confront the chilling antagonists.
  • The book tackles contemporary themes like the COVID-19 pandemic, politics, and societal issues. It provides a thought-provoking perspective on these topics, encouraging readers to reflect on real-world challenges.


  • Some readers may find the heavy emphasis on COVID-19, politics, and related themes to be divisive or off-putting. The book’s focus on these issues might not resonate with everyone.
  • While the incorporation of pop culture references adds depth to the story, some readers may feel that these references are overly detailed and lengthy, potentially slowing down the pacing of the narrative.
  • The book’s appeal is highly subjective. Depending on individual preferences, readers may either appreciate or be deterred by the extensive use of political and COVID-19 elements, making it a polarizing read.
HollyPublisher ‏ : ‎ Scribner (September 5, 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 464 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1668016133
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1668016138
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.48 pounds
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.13 x 1.7 x 9.25 inches

About Article Author

Ethan Davis

Ethan Davis combines his passion for literature with another of his great hobbies: climbing. There is never a mountain high enough for him... nor a book he doesn't want to read, especially if it's a good crime thriller.
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