Since its release in 2017 by Team Cherry, Hollow Knight has exploded in popularity. The world is built around getting lost and exploring every tiny nook and cranny of the map. It forces you to learn the layout of the world, and even more, it encourages you to learn the lore and worldbuilding of Hollow Knight.
To understand the lore and worldbuilding of Hollow Knight, I encourage you to explore the comics and interact with the community regularly. Of course, fanfiction is definitely one of the ways that you can explore that lore – though it’s essential to understand that authors will often fill their work with their interpretations of the world and the characters.
Even still, fanfiction is undoubtedly a fantastic way to pass the time and see how creative people can be, even with pre-determined source material.
There’s a lot of fanfiction to sift through, and not all of it is good. What follows below are some of my favorites I’ve found. It’s important to remember when reading fanfiction that not everyone interprets the personality of characters the same way, especially with silent protagonists.
How the Knight, or Ghost, is interpreted can vary from author to author. Even still, that doesn’t stop these stories from being excellent. In novel-length stories, my personal favorite was Broken Open Revealing Hollowness and Vibrance. My favorite of the one-shots, however, was On Becoming.
There are plenty of works outside of what I’ve chosen, and plenty falls between the novel-length and the one-shots. One person cannot explore them all, but they can certainly try!
When going through fanfiction, I picked a handful of criteria and read through the works that I thought might fall into those specifications. From there, I went ahead and picked the best Hollow Knight Fanfiction! Below you can read the criteria I used to make my choices.
- Must be 17,000+ words long: Novellas are generally considered to be 17,000 to 40,000 words long. Anything over that becomes a novel. For the sake of choice, I’ve opted for the lower end of 17,000 words.
- It Must be well written: this means there can’t be a repetitive amount of serious grammatical or spelling errors.
- Must be completed: by completed, I mean the idea has been entirely played out – no dead fics that have been marked as “completed.”
- It must be divided up into multiple chapters
- No Cross-Overs
- Must be 2,000 – 17,000 words long: Lower than 2,000 words usually leave the author’s idea feeling underexplored or rushed. Longer than 17,000 words, and readers are looking at more of a time commitment, moving one from a novelette to a novella and full-blown novel.
- It must be well written
- Must be completed
- Bonus points for single-chapter works
- No Cross-Overs
It’s no secret that fanfiction writers can churn out works that rival highly acclaimed novels in the word count. These novel-length fanfictions can be hit or miss, but they undoubtedly prove that the authors, and the readers, were passionate enough to see them through to the end.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the world and lore of Hollow Knight without having the play the game again or even explore different aspects of the game, these
When I Wake from this Dream with Chains All Around Me
- Word Count: 295,663
- Chapters: 60
- Date Completed: 2022-11-25
- Author: dropout_ninja
Written by dropout_ninja, this fanfiction follows the journey after the Delicate Flower ending (meaning, if you haven’t played the Godmaster DLC, you may not be familiar with this ending).
Beginning with the Hollow Knight and Hornet being united once more (or reunited, since the two seem to be familiar with each other), dropout_ninja takes the reader through finding and growing comfortable with a found family and starting anew.
As is true to the style of the game itself, this fic can often take on a sorrowful tone, well-deserving of its “hurt/comfort” and “slow burn on the healing apparently” tags.
The only tip I would give before you dive into this fanfic is to be familiar with all the free content packs for Hollow Knight.
- Word Count: 65,442
- Chapters: 16
- Date Completed: 2022-12-10
- Author: Nym_P_Seudo
Unlike the previous fanfic, this one starts pre-ending and strictly sticks to canon. Even still, there is enough wiggle room in the lore and worldbuilding of Hollow Knight that this story thrives as it explores the story of the Hollow Knight, from its birth to its ‘death.’
Nym_P_Seudo explores the personalities and characteristics of the Knights and heroes and, from the perspective of the Hollow Knight, how Hallownest fell apart.
True to the game even further, the story’s tone is often grimdark and somber in the mood – with some commenters even wondering how the author has yet to be hired by Team Cherry to write official novels.
Even better, the title references some cut dialogue from the game: when you hit the Hollow Knight with the Dream Nail, the cut dialogue would have had it say, “…Father?…”
- Word Count: 198,490
- Chapters: 28
- Date Completed: 2022-07-13
- Author: MrsLittletall
Off Balance is unique because it steers away from the canon lore. This story follows the Pale King and his relationship with the Hollow Knight, specifically as the Pale King learns to be a father and the Hollow Knight learns to be something more than a pure vessel.
The characters, which previously had little character exploration outside the descriptions given, are given a new breath of life and a chance for a happy ending.
This fanfiction isn’t all sweetness and fluff, however – sporting the tags “hurt/comfort” (both emotional and physical) and “PK needs therapy,” MrsLittletall definitively puts the reader through the emotional wringer. In the end, though, it is all worth it.
Sins of the Father
- Word Count: 101,749
- Chapters: 48
- Date Completed: 2021-08-15
- Author: Weirdpianist and ReverseInverse
Following the Embrace the Void ending, this work embraces the canon while simultaneously offering an alternate universe exploration of Hallownest. In this fanfiction, the Pale King is given a second chance to create a better outcome for Hallownest and those in the kingdom, thanks to the Void Entity (known by various other names).
Despite the high word count and the multitude of chapters, most of it is broken up into easy-to-consume chapters, meaning if you’re trying to pass a bit of time, you likely won’t find yourself in the middle of a chapter and need to leave.
Sins of the Father is the first in a series, with its ongoing sequel, “Dreams of the Father.” If you finish this fic and find yourself wanting more, rise and celebrate, for more awaits!
Broken Open Revealing Hollowness and Vibrance
- Word Count: 154,572
- Chapters: 57
- Date Completed: 2020-04-13
- Author: JaxxCapta
One of my favorites, this fanfic works with the Dream No More ending and mixes it with flashes of the Godseeker endings. JaxxCapta takes the reader through the ambiguity of the post-ending(s), exploring how Hornet copes with this sudden shift in the reality she has known for so long. She is joined by the Hollow Knight, who she gradually helps to recuperate and adapt to this new world.
Together the two of them deal with what remains of the Knight, more commonly referred to as Ghost throughout. This is fanfiction that embraces multiple parts of the canon lore but chooses to expand upon it and explore it more while at the same time adding the flair and desires of the author in a way that makes it an incredibly enjoyable read.
The story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, though, with the author implying that, depending on how Silksong plays out, there may or may not be a sequel. Looking at their page, though, it doesn’t seem like there’s more to read afterward.
The Quicker Reads
Let’s face it: sometimes those 100,000+ word fanfictions are too much of a commitment to sink a lot of time into. After all, you’re committing yourself to read an entire book with that high of a word count.
Being briefly entertained with one-shots (or one-chapter fics) is enough to pass the time and help to spark some of your own ideas. What follows below are my top five Hollow Knight one-shot fics.
- Word Count: 6,576
- Date Published: 2023-01-14
- Author: Ashyr
This one-shot specifically deals with The Grimm Troupe content pack for Hollow Knight and what happens if the absorption of the Nightmare King Grimm goes wrong. While in the throws of the final part of the Ritual, the Knight absorbs the Nightmare’s Heart and the Nightmare King Grimm. This leaves the Knight searching for those who can help them fix the problem.
The story mainly takes place from the perspective of Grimm, and through the one-shot, as brief, as it is, he grows closer to the Knight. A brief, but fun read, Symbiosis is a great way to sink your teeth into a unique concept.
Ever Smiled at the Tragedies?
- Word Count: 3,085
- Date Published: 2022-11-01
- Author: Ashyr
Another fic by Ashyr, this one-shot, follows the Knight, referred to as Ghost here, as they journey through Hallownest to retrieve another delicate flower for Grimmchild. Specifically, this work takes place after the Dream No More ending of the game.
Although this one-shot is part of a larger work, it still stands well on its own, doing well to express how, despite the infection no longer being a problem, traversing through Hallownest is still not an easy feat.
This story is lively and holds a lot of hope for the future of Hallownest, despite the somberness of the game. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up in between all of the somber reads, ever smiled at the tragedies? is perfect for that.
- Word Count: 5,796
- Date Published: 2023-01-04
- Author: ThisCat
On Becoming is both a rehashing of the game’s story and a character study of the Knight. Where the game doesn’t delve too much into character development for the Knight, this story does. On Becoming explores how, bit by bit, the Knight gradually becomes less ‘hollow’ and gradually becomes whole and accepting that it is and it exists with purpose.
Overall, ThisCat gives an interesting perspective for the Knight and helps readers who may not have previously connected with their player character to connect and relive the story through a new and introspective light. This fic is absolutely worth the time it takes to read and re-read.
Question: Where Can I Play Hollow Knight?
Answer: Hollow Knight is available on the Nintendo Switch, the PlayStation 4, XBOX, MacOS, Linux, and Windows.
Question: Is the Hollow Knight Genderless?
Answer: Yes. As the Hollow Knight is a Vessel made from the Void, the Hollow Knight does not have a gender. Similarly, the Knight – your player character – is also genderless.
Question: Is Hollow Knight a Sad Story?
Answer: Yes, it is, no matter how far into the lore you go. You are exploring a world stuck in a moment of despair and destruction. However, there are brief moments of happiness throughout the game, though. Those brief moments of shining happiness are only made stronger and more impactful by the somber aura of Hallownest.
There is a lot of fanfiction out there, ready to be read. A lot of it is subpar, unfortunately, but there are quite a few gems – some unfinished and left forever to waste away and others active in the works. Even still, there’s nothing worse than starting a really promising fan fic and finding out it was last updated two years ago and has since been abandoned.
Hollow Knight fanfics are not exempt from this horrifying reality, so sorting through to find the ones that are truly finished can be difficult. Completed works, truly completed ones, are a way to avoid that horrifying “may-never-be-finished” tag, but they’re only the start in a world full of amazing fanfiction.
I highly encourage taking the time to figure out what you like in fanfiction and exploring that further, even the unfinished works. Who knows, they may give you the spark of inspiration to start writing your own.
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