I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Hollow Gods by Vrana A. J.
Published by The Parliament House on July 28, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban
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"Vrana's dark, folklore-infused debut, the first of a duology, introduces readers to the residents of Black Hollow, who hold their daughters close and their twisted secrets closer...Vrana crafts a unique local mythology and draws from existing lore to create a sense of creeping dread. Vrana is off to a strong start with this solid, suspenseful tale."
– Publisher’s Weekly
Black Hollow is a town with a dark secret. For centuries, residents have foretold the return of the Dreamwalker—an ominous figure from local folklore said to lure young women into the woods and possess them. Yet the boundary between fact and fable is blurred by a troubling statistic: occasionally, women do go missing. And after they return, they almost always end up dead. When Kai wakes up next to the lifeless body of a recently missing girl, his memory blank, he struggles to clear his already threadbare conscience. Miya, a floundering university student, experiences signs that she may be the Dreamwalker’s next victim. Can she trust Kai as their paths collide, or does he herald her demise?And after losing a young patient, crestfallen oncologist, Mason, embarks on a quest to debunk the town’s superstitions, only to find his sanity tested.A maelstrom of ancient grudges, forgotten traumas, and deadly secrets loom in the foggy forests of Black Hollow. Can three unlikely heroes put aside their fears and unite to confront a centuries-old evil? Will they uncover the truth behind the fable, or will the cycle repeat?
The Hollow Gods made me feel like I was transported to another dimension. So many things brought the supremely imaginative plot to life. It was the kind of book that you forgot you were actually reading – it felt like an out of body experience. I almost felt like I could feel the wind blowing in my hair and my eyes witnessing the spectacular vistas that the author so expertly inserted me into the bones of the novel.
A place with a dark history. A magical source of unquestionable power. A place that is revered for many a good reason. A place that wouldn’t be out of place in some fantasy series on Netflix. Girls that occasionally go missing, they return to their families who descend into madness and kill them. Interested? Good, because it only gets better from here. There are mutterings that a girl named Dream walker is behind the killings having being ostracized a number of years ago. Is it possible that revenge is the motivator or is something more obscure at play? Trying to decide and decipher the decisions and motivations of the characters had me hungering for more details. Any little titbit of information that Vrana gave me had me on my knees being grateful for the smallest morsel.
The Hollow Gods was written in such a fantastical way that the reader immediately feels that they are in the centre of the plot. We have the luxury of having three perspectives, Kai – a shapeshifting wolf who is heartbreakingly human. A psyche that is at war with itself. Miya, a girl that is at one with the woods, it has been her safe space, but will the realisation that she could be Dreamwalkers next victim change that perspective? Finally, Mason, a legend hunter who is determined to uncover the truth, come what may.
The pace at which this narrative careened along had my appetite truly whetted. Fasten your seatbelts because the pace will make your head go wild! The story has everything you could possibly need and crave in a fantasy novel. The hope that constantly builds up in your heart, the fear that is imbedded in the book’s DNA and the intense thoughts and feelings that get wracked from your body. I finished the book over a week ago and it still gives me goosebumps, it was a magical experience. The characterisation gives the tangible thread to humanity and the reader is given a logical but imaginative appreciation of the worldbuilding from that basis.
The Hollow Gods features a bit of romance, but I loved how that wasn’t the actual storyline, it enhanced and propped the plot up. There’s mystery and intrigue and characters that you just can’t help but fall for. The learning curve and fighting in the characters corner gave everything a three-dimensional experience. Everything came full circle and I couldn’t help but smile at the direction and conclusion that the story took.
The Hollow Gods was just one of those books where I was entranced from beginning to end. It was intense, immersive and Vrana’s prose is utterly spellbinding.
Thanks once again to The Storytellers On Tour for my place on the blog tour and organising yet another stellar tour.
ABOUT A.J. VRANA
A. J. Vrana is a Serbian-Canadian academic and writer from Toronto, Canada. She lives with her two rescue cats, Moonstone and Peanut Butter, who nest in her window-side bookshelf and cast judgmental stares at nearby pigeons. Her doctoral research examines the supernatural in modern Japanese and former-Yugoslavian literature and its relationship to violence. When not toiling away at caffeine-fueled, scholarly pursuits, she enjoys jewelry-making, cupcakes, and concocting dark tales to unleash upon the world.
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