- Title: The Hollow Gods
- Series: The Chaos Cycle Duology, #1
- Author: A.J. Vrana
- Publisher & Release: The Parliament House, 7/28/2020
- Length: 384 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⚡ most likely
Thank you so much to BooksGoSocial via NetGalley for the eARC of The Hollow Gods in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!
Here is the description from GoodReads:
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?
The Hollow Gods is a solid debut from author A.J. Vrana. I feel like the mood of this book is the most important aspect. It is a dark, atmospheric read, and fits right in to the block of literature that tackles ancient legends in small towns, superstition, possession, and dreamscapes.
The book tackles three unique points of view. Kai is definitely my favorite, the man who is a wolf, because his moods and foul mouth are just so memorable. He has a lot of reasons to be angry, not even to mention an ancient spirit that likes to run him in front of buses and the like. I did not like Mason at all, honestly if you can’t handle death don’t be a doctor, especially an oncologist. All I heard was WHINE whine WHINE and I wanted to smack him. It must be different in Canada because in the United States, a resident doctor wouldn’t be left in sole custody of a patient like that. It might have also been an artistic stretch but I spent the entire book wanting to smack him.
The legend of the Dreamwalker was brought out in small bits and pieces throughout the story. I think the townspeople are definitely crazy but what can you do when an evil entity is influencing mass hysteria? Miya is the third character and she grew on me, especially once she truly became a main character and began interacting with Kai. I hope that the second novel talks more about how Kai and Ama (the other wolf) even exist, they definitely aren’t werewolves … they are just what they are. The raven was an interesting character too, there is a lot of ground that could be potentially covered in the next book.
Vrana’s writing is perfect though, she spent the entire novel capturing the dark atmosphere required for a book like this. It was never creepy, and I was never scared, but still managed to capture that ancient wisdom and brash moody feel. I think it is super interesting too that the author studied supernatural literature related to violence for her doctorate – the interest and accuracy and thoughtfulness for which this is captured throughout the pages is quite evident.
Additionally, all of the characters have to deal with their own tough issues of personal inadequacy, grief, and discovering their places in the world. If they like it or not, they are tied together and I did enjoy watching them all work through their issues.
So why am I only giving it 3.5 stars? I can’t explain it but I tuned out a few too many times. There was a lot of dreamscape action before I figured out what was going on that made me lose interest, and I felt like she took a long slow approach to get there. I am 100% definitely going to read the next book though and have no problem recommending this to fans of legends, supernatural, witch hunts, and animals in folklore. It releases July 28th so add it to your TBR now if it sounds up your alley!
Have you read it? Want to discuss it? Drop a comment below!