Book Review | The Hollow Gods

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The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Duology #1) by A.J. Vrana

Published July 28, 2020

Paperback 409 pages

4.5/5 stars

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an open and honest review

Guys, this book was so good though! Think a much darker Linger series by Maggie Stiefvater meets The Near Witch by V. E. Schwab. I Loved it!

The Story

At it’s core, it is the story of a werewolf and a girl. Or perhaps it is the story of a girl who is lost and then found. Or perhaps it is the story of a history that is doomed to repeat itself over and over again. I think it is absolutely a story of redemption.

(Goodreads synopsis):

A perfect story for contemporary fantasy readers who love their narratives razor-sharp and their secrets dark and deadly.

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? 

What I liked

I loved the characters, their internal struggles, their parts to play in a story that was also sort of reminiscent of the movie Inception.

Reading this story was like walking through a dense fog in the not quite night and not quite day. The way the past and the present collide. The way shame and guilt and fear collide. The way light and dark, sleep and wake, life and death all collide. It’s honestly a difficult book to really even describe. At it’s core, it is the story of a werewolf and a girl. Or perhaps it is the story of a girl who is lost and then found. Or perhaps it is the story of a history that is doomed to repeat itself over and over again. I think it is absolutely a story of redemption.

The way the author was able to create this air of suspense throughout the entire novel is incredible and definitely transported to me a world far away from my own (which of course is what a story is supposed to do). I was immersed and I never wanted it to end.

The characters are complex, shaded in tones of gray. Broken and battling with demons within and without … and perhaps in this way, this story is one giant metaphor.

What I Did Not Like

What keeps a book at a 4.5 vs. a 5 star for me really just comes down to the book’s ability to be MORE. Pull my emotions MORE. Connect me to the characters MORE. Connect me to the world MORE. And while this book had everything that a great story has … it just didn’t quite yet push that limit that I know this story can have. I hope to see this continue to develop in the next book in this series.

In Conclusion 

A truly wonderful debut! I can’t wait to see MORE.

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