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 Echoed Realm by A. J. Vrana
Published by The Parliament House on August 10, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Occult & Supernatural, Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal, Thrillers, Suspense
Format: ARC, eBook
Buy on Amazon
Miya's world ended in Black Hollow.
It's been three years since the Dreamwalker upended her life and left her with a heavy burden. A fledgling to the ethereal realm, Miya stumbles into the nightmares of those haunted by spectres. Little does she know, one of them is coming for her, clutching a dark secret abreast.
Kai has found a new purpose with his companion, but the price is his freedom. Bound and beholden to Miya, he struggles to adjust to his new role as her vanguard.
Meanwhile, Mason discovers he may be a pawn trapped in a web of schemes. Was his time in Black Hollow an accident, or was it only the beginning of some greater machination?
As Black Hollow's bloody stain spreads beyond its wooded borders, Miya fights to evade a past she barely understands. The Dreamwalker's legacy is a vise grip, and it isn't letting go. Primordial horrors draw near, fables come alive, and long-buried histories rise from the grave, ready to hunt.
Sharpen your claws and bloody your teeth. There's fear to be sown.
The Echoed Realm…a masterpiece that reminded me absolutely of a love affair between the horror movie Insidious and The Mist. Miya’s back and I’ve fallen in love with these characters even more, didn’t think that was possible but that is the magic being summoned by the incredibly talented Vrana. If you haven’t read The Hollow Gods…rectify that immediately, its ethereal, haunting and the narrative is as likely to leave a hole in you as the devastating plot. Writers who leave you staring into the void with anguish and joy at the ending is something to cherish and Vrana is no exception.
The Echoed Realm takes place three years after catastrophic events in The Hollow Gods. We are reintroduced to the protagonists, Miya, Kai and Mason once again, it’s like a homecoming. The writing absolutely blew my socks off. Writing that feels like a haunting whisper in the wind. Writing that feels etched in time, never aging, powerful. Everything about this book has a dark and spellbinding edge….an emerging threat in your peripheral vision, a creeping dread. I constantly found myself dumbstruck that this is a debut writer because she writes with consummate skill and intelligence.
One thing that The Echoed Realm delivered on was an exceptionally strong ending, but that can only be as strong as its opening. The opening chapter was right on point. The imagery, the desolation, everything had heart and passion and the tone is instantly set…bleak but not without hope. We know what Miya is, what she is capable of, oftentimes a heavy burden for her to bare but it is what it is, and she doesn’t pretend otherwise. The book is a treasure trove of lore, mythology and an entrance into another realm…forget all you knew before.
Vrana takes the path least trodden with The Echoed Realm. It’s a fresh and unique take on the supernatural…it’s a real genre bending series. Horror, supernatural and fantasy pushing the threads of realism to its very edges. It’s a real work of art, you can feel the pulse running through it, the author has put her everything into it and left a part of herself contained within the pages. You can feel the personal edge to its narrative.
The heralding achievement lies within the fact that it is written as a duology. The market is absolutely flooded with trilogies, it was clever and authentic to write it this way.
The Echoed Realm has exceedingly well drawn characters. Vrana does powerful, strong female characters with heart with a constant feeling of omnipresent danger lurking.
ABOUT A.J. VRANA
I write dark, contemporary fantasy and supernatural horror inspired by fable and lore.
While the setting of my work is often modern, I incorporate elements of the surreal, the forgotten, and the fantastical. My work tends towards the gritty and explores that which is hidden beneath the surface. I enjoy playing with time, perception, and imbuing my stories with multiple layers of reality.
A lifelong resident of Toronto, Canada, I am the product of the Yugoslavian diaspora that fled during the country’s violent collapse. Growing up between two cultures has always given me a sense of liminality, of being neither here nor there. This has given me a unique perspective that has served as inspiration in both my professional life and my creative endeavors. I hope to make a meaningful impact on others through storytelling.
I hold a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Humanities from York University. I am currently working on my doctoral dissertation at the University of Toronto, exploring the supernatural in modern Japanese and Balkan fiction and its relationship to violence. In January 2019, I also began a Masters degree in Public Health, with the hope of one day influencing policy pertaining to mental healthcare for individuals living with chronic illnesses. In both my research and my creative writing, I have always been captivated by the unseen.
In my spare time, I am an amateur jeweler and a lukewarm gamer. My favourite videogame franchise will always be Zelda, with Majora’s Mask capturing my heart like no other game. I have a soft spot for Capcom’s Okami and the Devil May Cry series, but I will rabidly defend Ninja Theory’s horrendously underrated DmC: Devil May Cry reboot. I live with my two rescue cats, Moonstone and Peanut Butter, and deeply miss my Alaskan Malamute, Navi.
Prior to writing The Hollow Gods, I completed several fiction projects that will never see the light of the day. I like to think of them as my teachers; they provided me with the skill, patience, and determination to complete my debut novel, which I am proud to finally present to the world. The Hollow Gods is a creative exploration of my passions and a love letter to the unseen.
Some of my inspirations include Murakami Haruki, Neil Gaiman, V.E. Schwab, Katherine Arden, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Kyōka Izumi, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, and Andrew Davidson.