WHAT IS THE BOOK ABOUT?
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?
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?
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THE HOLLOW GODS BY A. J. VRANA
An intriguing blurb, an even more intriguing title, and a beautiful cover compelled me to pick up this book. I am glad to say The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana did not disappoint me.
A GREAT START
With an impactful opening, the book starts on a great note; it urged me to keep on reading to find out more about the legend and its ties to the disappearing girls of Black Hollow. The mystery deepens further as I leafed through the pages.
THE PERSPECTIVES OF KAI, MIYA, AND MASON
The story is told from the perspectives of three people – Kai, Miya, and Mason. For the major part of the book, Kai’s perspective seems confused and angry, just as the author intends it to be. It raises more questions than revealing answers, which significantly increases the mystery quotient of the book.
Through Miya’s perspective, on the other hand, Vrana writes about issues of mental health and anxiety and cleverly ties them to the fable of her story. The strange yet vivid dreams of an overstressed, insomniac student can easily be attributed to just that – stress. But what if, they are premonitions of things to come? What if an otherworldly entity is trying to warn Miya? Just like Miya, I, too, kept on questioning these events.
However, it was Mason’s point-of-view that I liked the most since he is presenting all the questions which are probably there in the reader’s mind as well.
Who is this Dreamwalker?
Why is there so much violence in Black Hollow?
Why do the women who come back end up dead, almost always?
“Stories aren’t told to convey the facts. They’re told to convey the truth.”The Hollow Gods by A. J. Vrana
Mason is the rational voice, trying to find the reason behind all these bizarre events. He is an outsider. As a result, his inquisitiveness wins over his desire to not believe in the folklore in the first place. But as he digs deeper, he cannot help but wonder – Is the Dreamwalker a malevolent spirit made up by the townsfolk, or does she exist? Because if she does, it blurs the line between fiction and reality.
Vrana seamlessly switches between the multiple POVs of Kai, Mason, and Miya to craft a smoothly flowing story.
The mystery does not unfold till the end of the book which kept me on my toes; however, till then, the characters are constantly battling between rationality and myth. Strange, horrific things are happening to them, but they are questioning their validity continuously. What is happening to them? How is it even possible? The very questions which arise in the reader’s mind as well.
The only complaint I have with the book is my failure to connect with the blooming love between (no points for guessing) Kai and Miya. It was more of an insta-love for me, but it does move the story forward.
THE STRENGTH OF THE BOOK
In my opinion, the story is at its strongest when the mystery is unfolding – what is the legend which the townsfolk of Black Hollow is so tight-lipped about? Why do the characters keep seeing a particular raven? Is the Dreamwalker the only evil spirit here? These questions kept me on my toes, and I could not stop reading until I reached the last page.
It is past 85% that the story becomes thick with suspense leading to an excellent climax. This more than compensates for a meandering, gentle-paced middle portion. What was insta-love soon turned into an all-consuming affair when it was a love between two souls, not just two teenagers. Vrana’s writing shines when she is describing the folklore and talking about spirits and realms. Further, her vivid descriptions of the eerie forest and the small town of Black Hollow create an atmospheric setting.
TO READ OR NOT TO READ?
The Hollow Gods blends fables and nightmares to concoct a dark tale. It is undoubtedly a unique novel; unlike any, I have read to date.
If you like your fantasy novels infused with rich folklore and a mystery element, you will like The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana.
Many thanks to Storytellers on Tour for organizing this tour. Thanks to the author and the publisher for my free copy of the book. This does not affect my opinion on the book. I opted to provide an honest review.
Do visit the other blogs and Instagram accounts featuring this book as part of this blog tour. Click on the image below to visit other blogs.
The Hollow Gods by A. J. Vrana
Published: July 28, 2020 by The Parliament House
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror, Magical Realism
Age Group: New Adult / Adult
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.
Disclaimer – The Amazon.in link is an affiliate link. If you buy from this link, I will get a very small commission at no extra cost to you.
The giveaway will be for a poster of choice depicting art inspired by The Hollow Gods. There will be one winner, and will be open internationally. The giveaway will run from Sunday, June 26th at 12:00am EDT until Sunday August 2nd at 11:59pm EDT. Here is the link.
Hiya, readers! Have you read this book? What did you like the most about it?
If you haven’t, do you plan to read it? Let me know in the comments’ section below.