I’m back with another blog tour and it’s my first one with The Storytellers on Tour for The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana. Thanks to the Timy & Justine for organising this tour and thanks to Parliament House Press and A.J. Vrana for the free copy in exchange for an honest review!
Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!
Goodreads: The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Duology #1)
Publisher: The Parliament House
Publication Date: 28 July 2020
Genre: Paranormal Horror, Fantasy, New Adult
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?
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.
It’s safe to say this is like nothing I can remember reading before. If you know me, you know how I’m basically The Ultimate Chicken™ especially when it comes to things relating to horror, paranormal spirits/ghosts and the like, and this book ticked all of those boxes. Excuse the language (as I don’t normally swear in my reviews), but I gotta say I was scared shitless the whole time reading this! 😅 I can’t lie… I was confused for a good chunk of the read but I have to give credit to Vrana for this unique horror with many mystifying elements that left me feeling chilled down to my bones. At times I felt like maybe I wasn’t “smart enough” to really get all the symbolism in this book but I think that you can definitely get a lot out of the writing. That said, despite my confusion, I was pulled in by the spooky folklore and I needed to know the ‘why’ for the crazy things that keep happening in this small town.
The weaving of this story was done really well. From the start, there’s a foreboding quality in the writing that sends warning chills down your spine in nervous anticipation because you just know that there’s going to be a lot of weird and scary things happening. There’s a stark sense of wrongness about the town and its inhabitants and despite being completely terrified, I also didn’t want to stop reading because the atmospheric writing pulled me in and I felt compelled to keep myself in it. There were parts of the story that also take place in an ‘other world’ that had such a hazy and dreamy quality that was so palpable I could imagine myself ‘reading through the fog’.
The story is told through three perspectives: Miya, Kai and Mason. I thought Vrana did a great job writing these characters to life. They each have strong, well formed personalities and their voices in their POVs were very distinct. I thought the personal struggles that our MCs had to overcome were very relatable and realistic, which made it easier to care for them and feel invested in their journey. There was some character development but I thought that it happened so abruptly and in one big ‘chunk’ towards the end which made it felt very rushed. There’s also a bit of an insta-love element to the story that I wasn’t a big fan of (because I hate that trope) although as the history was explained I did understand why it made sense; still, I wish there had been more development in that relationship because I liked both characters very much.
Despite the folklore being my favourite part of the story, the unfolding of the mystery was actually what confused me the most and I think it made the “a-ha” moment less enjoyable as I wasn’t sure if I really understood it. Although it was obviously illuminating, I still found myself questioning events and the significance of certain characters we meet, but as this is a series I suppose more clarity will come in the sequel (even though I do think that this could very easily be read as a standalone because there’s no cliffhanger or open ending).
While this definitely isn’t my most-read genre, sometimes it’s really refreshing to step out of your comfort zone even if it scares the crap out of you! I’m so glad that I took the chance to read this book because it was one hell of a twisty, terrifying ride.
Have you read The Hollow Gods or is it on your TBR?