The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Duology, #1)
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 (The Chaos Cycle Duology, #1) Details

TitleThe Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Duology, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 28th, 2020
PublisherThe Parliament House Press
ISBN-139781733386807
Rating
GenreFantasy, Horror, Adult

The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Duology, #1) Review

  • Lia (booksnpenguins)
    January 1, 1970
    "This town's legends, its mysteries, and its secrets - they make you feel alive, don't they?" The Hollow Gods is different than all the books I've read lately. It's rich with folklore and veiled character's analysis that make you think you're reading a story about a demonic woman terrorizing an entire town, when in reality you're learning your way into the side effects of grief, loss, anxiety, identity crisis, mass hysteria and whatever it is that tingle in your stomach you feel when deal "This town's legends, its mysteries, and its secrets - they make you feel alive, don't they?" The Hollow Gods is different than all the books I've read lately. It's rich with folklore and veiled character's analysis that make you think you're reading a story about a demonic woman terrorizing an entire town, when in reality you're learning your way into the side effects of grief, loss, anxiety, identity crisis, mass hysteria and whatever it is that tingle in your stomach you feel when dealing with the otherworld.The writing is visual, impactful, with an impeccable prose and an unexpected quality of humor when it comes to many dialogues.The way Vrana creates a scene is extraordinary. The atmosphere she forces you into is almost claustrophobic by how real it seems, and so dark and gloomy it messes with your mind. I absolutely loved how, despite it being a third person POV story narrated by three different characters, the author managed to give each one of the narrators a different tone and a different voice. You could distinguish them perfectly, even without the names at the top of the page. I read books I found myself downrating because I couldn't tell one character from another, so I really appreciated it. There's a hint of romance, more like the start of it, but it's totally like the kind of romance you don't mind reading about because it's there to make you daydream and swoon and believe there's something good among the filth and horror, and not because it needs to be there. Kai and Miya's scenes are also incredibly sexy and their banter is pure gold, so that's a plus.And of course, who could resist a guy who compares your eyes to a puddle of shit? I mean. That's peak charming😂I also really liked the characters, even if I think this is not exactly a character driven story. Kai is absolutely my favotite. He's rude, moody, wild, with the biggest heart and the filthiest mouth. One of the things that made him so different than many others werewolves I read about, is that when he turns human he still acts like a wolf, when it's not unusual to read about the opposite situation. He still needs to grow up a bit, though, but we've got time and, for him, we're more than happy to wait. "Fuck this shit. Fuck everything. And fuck that squirrel in particular." I mean, Even though this is a book and not a movie, but same sentiment I guess. Miya is a badass. She's strong, passionate, brave, but also very much flawed. I liked the way she dealt with her personal and mental issues right from the start, and managed to work through them. I also liked how well represented her depression, panic attacks and anxiety were. They were totally on point and, having dealt with similar issues myself, I can affirm all the selfishness and confusion and almost childish behavior these things come with, were so spot on I felt I could really relate to her and maybe learn from my own mistakes just like she did. Just like Kai, she's still got a long way ahead of her, but we know she's going ot make it. Mason was maybe my least favorite of the three, but not because he wasn't well executed. I loved his journey and the way he let himself be drawn into the story without second guessing himself or the legends much. He was the moral compass of this weird group and I loved that he was "used" as a way for the reader to discover the truth without having to read it themselves. Another character I loved is Ama, but I can't tell you much about her and her raven friend, or I'll spoil all the fun for you. So, yeah, I'm not giving 5 full stars (though I bumped that final rating up because this is a debut and the author deserves all the recognition) because the start was a bit dull, but it recovers pretty quickly and once you find out how to properly enter into this book's mood, you're in for a ride. And, sure, I might be a bit biased because I had the chance and the luck to exchange a few texts with Alex Vrana, and not only she's the coolest person on this planet and literally the embodiment of a puppy and a kickass ninja all wrapped in one, but she's also so very down to earth and more than available to answer questions and clear doubts, but it's not just that that made me love this book to pieces. You guys know me, and know I like to say things as they are, and there's no denying that under all the sweetness and badassery this author possesses, there's an infinite amount of talentl. So, yeah, AJV is a literal angel, but she's also objectively great and totally going to go places, because her spooky stories, perfectly imperfect characters and exquisite writing, along with an absolutely engaging predisposition to make you feel like impossible is actually quite possible, and an endless list of curse words that involve the term 'shit' in all its fanciful declinations, made of this debut book an actual treat that I highly recommend to the fans of badass damaged girls, broody/soft wolf-boys, and supernatural scary stories that find their roots in super cool folkloric tales. One thing remains absolutely sure: if you're faint of heart, Black Hollow is probably not the place for you, but listen to this scared cat when I say that, like it or not, The Hollow Gods is sure as heck worth the nightmares! thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC and thanks to A.J. Vrana for teaching me so many new profanities. Fate is the beginning. ACTUAL RATINGS 4,5/5
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  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    "The Hollow Gods" is a genre-busting fantasy that blends fables, fairy tales, dark nightmares, and boundaries. You have the age-old motifs of the angry mob of villagers, the disappearing girls, the maiden on the creaky swing in the forbidden glade, the shapeshifting werewolf, the raven and the willow, and the haunted wood. It takes place in a remote British Columbia village hours north of Vancouver. Yet, Dark Hollow could well be in some fell mountain region in Western Romania. The woods extendi "The Hollow Gods" is a genre-busting fantasy that blends fables, fairy tales, dark nightmares, and boundaries. You have the age-old motifs of the angry mob of villagers, the disappearing girls, the maiden on the creaky swing in the forbidden glade, the shapeshifting werewolf, the raven and the willow, and the haunted wood. It takes place in a remote British Columbia village hours north of Vancouver. Yet, Dark Hollow could well be in some fell mountain region in Western Romania. The woods extending out from the village are a doorway into other dimensions where time and reality twist. And, where ancient gods do havoc. Yet, there are hints that maybe it's not real at all, just an overactive imagination. And, at points, the characters will often awake from a dream or from unconscious, after getting run over by a bus, after being lost in the woods, after being hit on the head. Is it all in their heads? Does someone need psychological treatment? Some of it is firmly rooted in this reality, but much is in dreams, in mystery, in legend. And, it is in this way, that the author weaves various threads together of fiction, fantasy, truth, legend, scientific fact, and town gossip, and seems to argue that it is neither truth nor fiction and neither fact nor fantasy. There are points where fables are based on truth and points where they spin off into netherland.Not written in a classic expository format, The Hollow Gods is a bit loose plot wise and seems almost to circle around and around the myth, around the woods, around the cabin, around the willow. Perhaps not the epic fantasy for everyone, it does have some real treats for those brave enough to venture into this wood.Interestingly, the main characters are all in some sense outcasts from society, wandering around the edges. You have the failed doctor whose patient died and has sought relief in an out-of-the way village. You have Miya, the failed college student, who has come home because university life wasn't working for her. Neither of these people are here or there. They have one foot firmly in reality and one foot in a fantasy world. And, then, you have Kai, who may not be fully human and may not be fully something else. He is barely here in this world and doesn't know how he goes from one to the other. It is as if the author is saying that civilization may end at some point when we get too far astray at the edge of town. There is something magical and fantastical if you stray too far into the woods, but be damn careful because unless you are firmly anchored, you may never find your way back.
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  • Sofia
    January 1, 1970
    Check out the review on my blog: https://sophsbookworld.wordpress.com/...Thanks to Netgalley, Booksirens and the publisher for providing me with an e-arc for this book in exchange for an honest review.Rating: 5 / 5 starsThis book blew my mind. With it’s amazing storyline, legends and magical feel to it it was just what I needed (and I want more!).To be honest the reason why I picked this up was because the author is Serbian and I believe she moved to Canada and I always like to support my fellow Check out the review on my blog: https://sophsbookworld.wordpress.com/...Thanks to Netgalley, Booksirens and the publisher for providing me with an e-arc for this book in exchange for an honest review.Rating: 5 / 5 starsThis book blew my mind. With it’s amazing storyline, legends and magical feel to it it was just what I needed (and I want more!).To be honest the reason why I picked this up was because the author is Serbian and I believe she moved to Canada and I always like to support my fellow compatriots and I’m glad I did because now I won’t stop talking about it! The cover doesn’t do this book the justice because the story behind it is just something different truly.The book tells a story of Black Hollow, the town where every now and then girls go missing in the woods, and when they come back their family members are driven to madness and kill them. Everyone thinks it’s the doing of Dreamwalker, a girl who was outcasted a long time ago and by killing the girls she seeks her revenge. It follows three perspectives: Miya – a young girl who has always been drawn to the woods until she realizes she may be the next Dreamwalker’s victim, Kai – a shapeshifting wolf who is fighting literal demons inside his head and Mason – an oncologist who has just moved to the town and wants to uncover it’s scary legends. I loved the three-perspective narration and how every character was totally different from the other in terms of language, feelings and story-telling.As soon as I got into the story a bit more I realized I had the same feelings I had while reading The Raven boys by Maggie Stiefvater (my favorite book, by the way). The similarity comes from the legends and quite peculiar but captivating and a sometimes a bit scary plotline that it totally blew my mind.The legend of wolves, woods and the Dreamwalker were the most interesting part because it felt like a real-life legend. The author presents us with so many details that all we want to do is Google it and see if it’s real (I had to do it just to be sure).The characters are all so different but I loved all of them. I loved how raw and unfiltered Kai was and how he talks about his primal instincts although it might seem brutish, but because he is a werewolf those are normal feelings. Miya is a very likeable character because she’s brave but loving and I loved that the romance wasn’t the main part of the story, although I liked it and it gave it an interesting twist. Although the history keeps repeating itself it must come to an end at once, and Miya is determined to end it.The fantasy was also very interesting, and I loved reading about dreamwalking as well as the power of mind in all of this. The fate plays the biggest role in this as it brings all of our characters together in the end.All in all this was so interesting and it makes me want to read a lot more paranormal stuff. The mixture of paranormal and legends was something I’ve never read before but I truly loved it. This is a masterpiece and I’m hoping it will be a series because I want more of it and that ending just didn’t cut it for me.I’m hoping this will get the praise it deserves once it’s out because it truly is a gem. If you like The Raven Boys I’m pretty sure you’ll love this book and if you love magical realism and legends this is a perfect book for you.
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  • Candace Robinson
    January 1, 1970
    I love the uniqueness that the author created with this story. I also really loved Kai and Maya and seeing their growth throughout the book! The world building was fantastic along with lovely prose and dialogue. There were cool creatures and lots of awesomeness to read about and oh how I love forests! I’m excited to see what path book 2 leads me down next!
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  • A.J. Vrana
    January 1, 1970
    ***UPDATE 2***If you're looking for signed copies of The Hollow Gods or live outside the US, you can purchase a paperback on my website: https://thechaoscycle.com/product/the...-------------------------***UPDATE***THE HOLLOW GODS PRE-ORDER CAMPAIGN IS NOW LIVE!!! Check out all the details and excited prizes on my blog: https://thechaoscycle.com/the-hollow-...Ebook pre-orders are now also only $0.99! —————————————I am obviously super biased because I wrote this thing, but I really love my book an ***UPDATE 2***If you're looking for signed copies of The Hollow Gods or live outside the US, you can purchase a paperback on my website: https://thechaoscycle.com/product/the...-------------------------***UPDATE***THE HOLLOW GODS PRE-ORDER CAMPAIGN IS NOW LIVE!!! Check out all the details and excited prizes on my blog: https://thechaoscycle.com/the-hollow-...Ebook pre-orders are now also only $0.99! —————————————I am obviously super biased because I wrote this thing, but I really love my book and hope you, dear reader, do as well! This is a story for all those who love mystery, fantasy, lore, and a touch of horror. If you're a fan of The Raven Cycle and The Bear and the Nightingale, then The Hollow Gods is for you!Some important themes this book touches on include mental health (grief, depression, anxiety); trans-generational trauma and haunting; collective guilt; the blurry line between truth and fiction; the conflict between rationalism and the fantastic; the power of folklore and collective memory.
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  • megs_bookrack
    January 1, 1970
    Ummm, this sounds AMAZING!!! Ummm, this sounds AMAZING!!!
  • Ari
    January 1, 1970
    BLOG | Instagram | Twitter | AmazonThank you NetGalley and The Parliament House Press for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine. ...fables were not merely stories inscribed on the pages of reality.They were a storm that ripped those pages from their bindingand re-wrote the world from scratch. Folklore is such a beautiful addition to any fantasy story. When properly used, you don't just have a tale with fantastical elements—now you have a tale that revolves around a people and their cult BLOG | Instagram | Twitter | AmazonThank you NetGalley and The Parliament House Press for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine. ...fables were not merely stories inscribed on the pages of reality.They were a storm that ripped those pages from their bindingand re-wrote the world from scratch. Folklore is such a beautiful addition to any fantasy story. When properly used, you don't just have a tale with fantastical elements—now you have a tale that revolves around a people and their culture, their beliefs and practices, their fears and attempts to vanquish and conquer that fear, as well as the history of the lore itself and how it matured into the world of that story. That's what The Hollow Gods delivered.First of all, A. J. Vrana has an ease to her writing style that made me get sucked into the book within a couple of chapters. Before I knew what hit me, I was fascinated and needed to know more. When given the time and attention that it deserves, The Hollow Gods flies by, and before you know it, you're done. There's more to this tale, there has to be, and I need to know it—that's how I find myself, abandoned after having finished.With three POVs, we're given Kai, Emiliya and Mason to follow. Out of the three, Mason was the one that I had the most difficulty connecting to. There's a back and forth to his personality that got on my nerves sometimes, and I couldn't always pinpoint what he wanted. He clearly believes, despite what he says to himself, or he wouldn't be chasing around the town as he does. However, even when truth smacks him in the face he continues to deny that he should continue on the path that he's started traveling. Putting myself in his shoes, I would be slightly terrified, sure. But given the opportunity to delve into an in-depth world, curse, and myth, how could I not jump at the chance to follow that road and know more?Kai and Miya are so much easier to become acquainted with. Kai has the sort of personality that I sometimes wish I owned in certain situations: he doesn't give a damn about appearances, could not care less about what people have to say or think about him, and he doesn't mince words. He's just absolutely brutal about it all, and for that I give him props. He doesn't live in a world in which he would survive were he any different. There is never an ounce of doubt on where Kai stands or how I felt about him. And Miya is rather similar. There's a slight ambivalence to her at the start, while dreams plague her and the Dreamwalker stalks, until she comes to terms with the fact that she simply does not belong where she is and needs to explore that. Taking Kai's hand and following him into the forest begins her and our awareness into who she is and where she should stand.There seems to be an insta-love between these two, but that's smoke and mirrors (and that's not simply due to their past in other lives). Miya isn't so much blindly trusting of Kai as she is curious, and that curiosity leads her to see past his facade and into someone who slowly unfolds to accepting her back. There are two meetings between them before she moves fully into his domain, but they're well developed enough that I didn't feel them rushing into anything. From the get-go there's an obvious attraction, and if anything, I'm thankful for the fact that it's not surrendered to right away. Vrana portrays the warmth and heat in their relationship without making it the sole focus of the book. Thank you.Where the meat really rests in this novel, however, is the legend surrounding Black Hollow. Please be aware that things are not always going to be clear to the reader, and I don't think that they're meant to be. This is a fable that unfolds in the subconscious for a good portion of it, and as such, it is written to be full of meanings that do not easily pinpoint to answers unless we go further. This is, I think, my favorite part of this book: how real the mind of a person is written. The complexity and hesitancy that wraps around us in dreams—and for some, visions—only makes sense when we are willing to dig deeper. And the deeper you dig, oxymoronically, the more lost you become even as you find yourself in the end. That's the weaving of the story of the Dreamwalker and the plague that has owned Black Hollow and its people for years. The Hollow Gods isn't “scary” or “horrific” in the common sense of the word. There are monsters, sure. And there are moments of terror, yes. But these are things that exist within the self a lot more so than outside of it. It's a theoretical sort of horror that deals with who one is and becomes very relatable a lot of the time. It's something that Emiliya has to experience for herself, and a quest on which we follow her from the start of the book.
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  • Inkslinger
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by A.J.Vrana, NetGalley, BooksGoSocial, and Parliament House. All opinions are mine and freely given.Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook "F*ck this shit.""F*ck everything.""And f*ck that squirrel in particular." 03-09: Normally I don't include much cussing in my reviews (edited for GR), it just isn't necessary.. but the above pretty much sums up my favorite character in 'The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Duology #1)' by A.J. Vrana. Kai Donovan's so surly it's hilarious, b ARC provided by A.J.Vrana, NetGalley, BooksGoSocial, and Parliament House. All opinions are mine and freely given.Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook "F*ck this shit.""F*ck everything.""And f*ck that squirrel in particular." 03-09: Normally I don't include much cussing in my reviews (edited for GR), it just isn't necessary.. but the above pretty much sums up my favorite character in 'The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Duology #1)' by A.J. Vrana. Kai Donovan's so surly it's hilarious, but he's still capable of caring.. it just comes in the most prickly, aggressive, physical package possible.. and I am crazy about him. Did I mention he's an ass.. but also hot as hell? Yeah. That's in his wheelhouse too.This story is about an old town, harboring a very dark legend and a lot of secrets. Miya, the main character, is a university student who's struggling to get by.. and beginning to think she might actually be in serious danger. Along the way she meets Kai.. a stranger.. who's more than a little rough around the edges and just happens to wake up next to a dead body to start his day. Told from multiple points of view by Miya, Kai, and Mason.. an oncologist who's dealing with some demons of his own, the three end up on similar paths. Attempting to get to the truth behind the legend of the Dreamwalker and a history of girls who go missing only to return, then turn up dead later, it's a question as to whether or not they can figure out what's happening and make it stop before it's too late. "Time to lose your way, she trilled.The Hollow's still got hell to pay." Honestly, this book was such a pleasure to read. It's common for authors, especially debuting authors, to bite off a little more than they can chew.. and multiple pov is especially difficult to execute well. There are plenty of seasoned bestselling writers out there who can't manage it, but that is not the case with Vrana. She shifts seamlessly between characters, successfully gifting each of them with distinctively individual voices.The same can be said for her transitions from chapter to chapter. Her foreshadowing is handled with all the control of a master like King.. elegant allusions and glimpses of things just beyond sight. Miya, Kai, and Mason all begin their stories at very specific points, vastly distant from one another, and are deftly drawn toward each other in gradually tightening circles. "Once upon a time, when the earth was formless and empty, and darkness stretched over the surface of the deep, we plunged one another into the abyss, and the world has trembled ever since." As for the plot itself, it's beautifully dark. It's the kind of story you find in age old fairy tales full of things that go bump in the night and absolutely mean you harm. The worlds they inhabit are fraught with dangerous things and not all of them as we might expect. There's sort of an 'in-between' and a place of 'otherness'.. both of which are as unique as the characters she introduces to us. I loved the way the 'in-between' often felt almost gauzy.. as if it was sort of a filter between the two. And the 'other' place.. wow. Talk about a nightmare. "Cut the seams of reality, and chaos is bound to spill out." Even her supporting characters, of which there are several we get to know, have very developed backstories.. making them feel all the more tangible and crucial to the tale she tells. Initially, I had been a little uncomfortable with the dialogue style between Kai and his nemesis, but that was largely due to the fact it seemed as if something else was happening. As soon as I understood.. it made sense and I realized it was absolutely the right choice.Truly, I can't say enough good things about this novel or this author. I'm so glad there's going to be more to this story.. and I look forward to seeing what Vrana has planned for us. I highly recommend grabbing this book when it releases in July 2020. ---------------------------------03-06: Well worth every minute spent with this book in my hands. One of my favorite reads of the year so far! Review to come soon! 03-05: This is actually one of those books I had really hoped to get a chance to read, thus I was so grateful when the author reached out. Super excited to get into it.
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  • Heather Lou Reads
    January 1, 1970
    Have you ever read and you didn't want it to end because you loved it so much? This was how this book was for me! It kept my interest from beginning to end. A. J. Vrana was able to create a town that was both creepy yet induring, Black Hollow felt like you were reading about an actual town that had a dark history, which terrorized its citizens by centuries of believing the Dreamwalker legend. When a young girls goes missing and is found wondering out of the woods after being missing for a week, Have you ever read and you didn't want it to end because you loved it so much? This was how this book was for me! It kept my interest from beginning to end. A. J. Vrana was able to create a town that was both creepy yet induring, Black Hollow felt like you were reading about an actual town that had a dark history, which terrorized its citizens by centuries of believing the Dreamwalker legend. When a young girls goes missing and is found wondering out of the woods after being missing for a week, the town is terrified because no one is supposed to come out of the woods alive. Our main character, Miya, is the one who finds the missing girl. Miya frequents the park in which the girl stumbles into. Miya is a girl who have problems on her own and doesn't follow the societal rules that ban her from exploring more about the Dreamwalker's presence in the town. The Dreamwalker mystery intrigues her and she finds herself exploring the woods and frequenting the park where she goes to think.One day, Miya meets a wolf at the park. She feels a sudden pull to the wolf that she's never felt before drawing her even farther into the legend of the town. When she meets Kai, she feels an instant pull towards him as well, something is familiar, which she quickly figures out, making her life change for forever.The mystery that surrounds this book will pull you in and keep you guessing the entire time. To say I loved this book is an understatement!
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  • Katya de Becerra
    January 1, 1970
    Hi, hello. I'm returning briefly from my self-imposed Goodreads exile so I can tell you all (*raises her voice... shouts*) that I've just finished reading an advanced copy of A.J. Vrana's dark contemporary fantasy debut THE HOLLOW GODS and that I loved it with all my heart. (In non-shouting but still excited voice): I mean, what's not to love? For starters, there's a smart, insightful young woman who doesn't tolerate BS and fights for what she loves. Then, there's a certain tormented character w Hi, hello. I'm returning briefly from my self-imposed Goodreads exile so I can tell you all (*raises her voice... shouts*) that I've just finished reading an advanced copy of A.J. Vrana's dark contemporary fantasy debut THE HOLLOW GODS and that I loved it with all my heart. (In non-shouting but still excited voice): I mean, what's not to love? For starters, there's a smart, insightful young woman who doesn't tolerate BS and fights for what she loves. Then, there's a certain tormented character who's got me grinning in evil delight while I was feverishly flipping the pages. And then there's a raven called Kafka. I'm not even talking about the dark, sinister mythology A.J. created here, and how it'll likely keep you up at night, guessing and wondering and thinking as to the origin of that creaking noise in your living room. Sorry for your nightmares. Not sorry:)Oh and here's my official blurb:This dazzling debut pulls you in with its compelling characters and horrifying mystery and keeps you in its thrall until the final page. The writing sizzles with menace, and the dark mythology A.J. Vrana weaves from dreams and nightmares is unlike any I've ever encountered, in and out of books. A perfect story for contemporary fantasy readers who love their narratives razor-sharp and their secrets dark and deadly.
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  • Frankie Lovely
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest reviewGuys, 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!What I likedI 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 4.5 starsI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest reviewGuys, 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!What I likedI 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 likeWhat 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 ConclusionA truly wonderful debut! I can't wait to see MORE.
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  • Book Barbarian (Tammy Smith)
    January 1, 1970
    eARC provided by NetGalley , thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial. All opinions are my own. Want something different? Check out this contemporary wicked fairy-tale/ horror smash up. SOME SPOOKY SHITThe Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana (spoiler free reviews)Book 1 in a DuologyPublish Date: July 28th 2020Cover Rating: 5/10Adult - Fantasy –Fiction –Fairy Tale Twist - HorrorEXPLAIN THE BOOK IN ONE ACCURATE SENTENCE:Three people come together to fight an ancient evil in a town called Black HollowWHAT W eARC provided by NetGalley , thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial. All opinions are my own. Want something different? Check out this contemporary wicked fairy-tale/ horror smash up. SOME SPOOKY SHITThe Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana (spoiler free reviews)Book 1 in a DuologyPublish Date: July 28th 2020Cover Rating: 5/10Adult - Fantasy –Fiction –Fairy Tale Twist - HorrorEXPLAIN THE BOOK IN ONE ACCURATE SENTENCE:Three people come together to fight an ancient evil in a town called Black HollowWHAT WAS RIGHT AND WHAT WAS WRONG?Well there are a lot of sides to this novel. Told from Mia, Mason and Kai’s point of view it was slightly difficult for me to form a close bond to either of them, I felt like every time I started to get into the characters mind, the point of view was abruptly changed.I loved that there were several different things going on story wise but I did not really enjoy the “wicked fairy-tale” aspect which felt very juvenile at times, especially the first 20 %. I think that would have worked better as a YA novel (if you take out the swearing) but I just could not get invested into the story and believe it. It was very childlike its description of the “evil legend of Black Hollow” and that for me that just didn’t work. If I want a fairy-tale I will pick up YA, this I thought would be more adult but again, just my opinion. I know a lot of people that love this troupe.IT’S SOMEONES CUP OF TEAOne thing you need to know, if this is your cup of tea. The writing, tone, atmosphere – IT’S FUGGIN PERFECTION. Flawless transitions and descriptions (and all the different story lines) kept me interested throughout and that is why I finished this novel.WHO IS THIS BOOK FOR:It wasn’t really for me, it could be for you. I think if you like fairy-tale/fable and folklore and some horror with a touch of romance– this is your perfect cup of tea. Rating: 2.9
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  • Patty (IheartYA)
    January 1, 1970
    The Hollow Gods is an original story that has an engaging start and a strong foundation. My favorite aspect was the writing and how realistic it made the story feel. I love when writing style and world building mesh so well that I feel like I'm a character in the story. Parts were too rushed however, creating an unsteady pace. It would have been nice to sense a deeper connection between Miya and Kai as there was a touch of instalove there, but I do understand that it was necessary for the plot. The Hollow Gods is an original story that has an engaging start and a strong foundation. My favorite aspect was the writing and how realistic it made the story feel. I love when writing style and world building mesh so well that I feel like I'm a character in the story. Parts were too rushed however, creating an unsteady pace. It would have been nice to sense a deeper connection between Miya and Kai as there was a touch of instalove there, but I do understand that it was necessary for the plot. I'm not a fan of alternating POVs and would have liked the book more if it had stuck with Miya's perspective. Overall 3.5 stars. I'll keep an eye out for new work by this author.Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC to review.
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  • Malorie
    January 1, 1970
    Lately, I can’t stop looking for the unknown in storytelling. The unknown as twofold: as it relates to the plot (the spiritual, the mysterious, the concealed within a cloak of secrets, the supernatural) and as it relates to how a story is told (unreliable narrators, dreams, liminal space, deviating from the expected form). It is invigorating exploring that which lit a fire of passion for reading within me, a love that caused me to study literature and to focus on Postmodern lit specifically. But Lately, I can’t stop looking for the unknown in storytelling. The unknown as twofold: as it relates to the plot (the spiritual, the mysterious, the concealed within a cloak of secrets, the supernatural) and as it relates to how a story is told (unreliable narrators, dreams, liminal space, deviating from the expected form). It is invigorating exploring that which lit a fire of passion for reading within me, a love that caused me to study literature and to focus on Postmodern lit specifically. But it is also exciting to see that type of exploration and experimentation that invigorates genres that have maintained their own formula—like that of fantasy. A. J. Vrana’s iridescent debut, THE HOLLOW GODS, is the first volume in a series called The Chaos Cycle. A story weaving folklore, dreams, the complicated histories contained within families, and the demons that communities carry with them. It is a speculative novel that defies classification in just one genre: it is magical realism, it is literary, it touches upon fantasy, it gives us a glimpse at real horror.The Hollow Gods is a story that follows three narrators: Miya, a floundering university student, let down by the institutions to which she had clung and who now faces the prospect of being the next victim of a legend that has plagued the town of Black Hollow. Kai, a dangerous and haunted young man, struggling to make sense of the death surrounding him and his fight to hold on to himself and his memory. And Mason, an Oncologist struggling to create meaning for the loss of a patient by debunking and rationalizing Black Hollow’s obsession with the Dreamwalker and the town’s dark past. We follow Miya as she experiences some truly horrifying dreams that blend with her reality as she tries to navigate what is happening to her and get to the bottom of the legend of The Dreamwalker. Kai is struggling against his own demons, trying to survive, when he and Miya come together and find solace in each other—their narratives becoming intertwined. Undergirding their journey is Mason, giving us the necessary history and circumstances to create a full picture of the town of Black Hollow, and elevating it to a character in its own right. I am absolutely in love with innovative story structures, and I was entranced by this setup—in addition to sustaining that “but how did they get here” tension, the story swapping makes for exciting and snappy storytelling that propelled me through at a voracious speed. Beyond pacing, however, it also lends to a delicious ambiguity—a revealing of information that at once feels integral, but is also still mysterious. Storytelling like this reminds us that sometimes it is essential to not have all of the information and that the mystery of folklore is grounded in humanity itself—the most unexplainable of phenomena. Perhaps what I appreciated most about this book is how it addresses themes that are genuinely relevant to understanding our own lives and history. It is a contemporary setting, but beyond time-period, it explores folklore as it relates to how we as people and societies rationalize our existence through the supernatural, and how that rationalization become the stories that we tell ourselves, and, perhaps most importantly, how those stories become a reality.I loved reading this book. I loved the characters within it. I can’t wait to further immerse myself in this enthralling world with the people that I have grown to love.***Note: This review was originally published on my blog at Marginally Magical.***
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  • Celia McMahon
    January 1, 1970
    February was a bad month for me with books. Usually, I'm all 4-5 star reads but I got mostly 3 stars and maybe one 4. THEEEEEEN, I started an arc of HOLLOW GODS and I knew I finally had my five star read. THE HOLLOW GODS is a book I think should be given out into the book community and praised. Granted, I did have high expectations because I've been drooling over the synopsis forever. I enjoy anything comped to The Raven Boys, but I was excited to see where the author would take me.THE HOLLOW GO February was a bad month for me with books. Usually, I'm all 4-5 star reads but I got mostly 3 stars and maybe one 4. THEEEEEEN, I started an arc of HOLLOW GODS and I knew I finally had my five star read. THE HOLLOW GODS is a book I think should be given out into the book community and praised. Granted, I did have high expectations because I've been drooling over the synopsis forever. I enjoy anything comped to The Raven Boys, but I was excited to see where the author would take me.THE HOLLOW GODS is what I expected. Dark, violent, heart wrenching, funny, and unique. We have three very complex characters-Mason, Kai and Miya-a tragic town's history and themes such as finding yourself after grief and disappointment.It's the real deep emotions that made this book a five star read for me. In essence, it gave me a strong Stephen King vibe, most recently the character of Ralph Anderson in THE OUTSIDER where he has to figure out this mystery all while dealing with the death of his own child. It's that realness that drew me in and made me fall for these characters. Vrana did great drawing out these emotions and gave us protagonists to root for. I realize this type of book isn't going to be for everyone for its graphic nature in some scenes and time leaps and big words that people don't understand that Kindle has a dictionary function for, but this is the sort of unbelievably out of the norm books I look for when I'm trying to get out my YA blackhole. In closing, this book was everything I hoped it would. The writing is something to envy (TEACH ME YOUR WAYS) I am eager to get my grubby hands on the next installment. Read if you want a dark, atmospheric read reminiscent of Stephen King.
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  • Holly Rigel
    January 1, 1970
    HOOKED!From the first chapter I was hooked! Such a relatable character that makes you want to follow them into the depths of the unknown! Such a wonderful world to get lost in with all of the mythology and twist and turns! It left me wanting more!!!!
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  • Justine
    January 1, 1970
    We are no different than the machines we ourselves have made. Like clocks, we spin around the same axis without alternative, infinitely, as though to turn in circles is the very purpose for which we were made. And all the while the world passes us by. We erode, and yet we continue to tick and tick and tick until the axis itself grows weary of our burdens, unhinges, and finally, we break. The Hollow Gods is budding author A. J. Vrana's beautifully surreal, captivating, and genre-bending debut We are no different than the machines we ourselves have made. Like clocks, we spin around the same axis without alternative, infinitely, as though to turn in circles is the very purpose for which we were made. And all the while the world passes us by. We erode, and yet we continue to tick and tick and tick until the axis itself grows weary of our burdens, unhinges, and finally, we break. The Hollow Gods is budding author A. J. Vrana's beautifully surreal, captivating, and genre-bending debut novel. At its heart, it's a tale of suspending your disbelief and opening your heart to the mysteries the world has to offer, accepting what's meant to be is what's meant to be. Told in a contemporary tone, this book delves far down the psychological rabbit hole, urging readers to question the realities of our own world, insisting we embrace the unknown and the inevitable. As human beings, we strive to perfect although we are flawed, to seek answers that should remain shrouded in shadow, to force reason by suppressing wonder and faith; The Hollow Gods promotes the idea that the cycle of history will repeat itself until we learn to just let go and enjoy the ride. A tale of mysteries and folklore with splashes of horror, all balanced with rakish humor, this Dark Fantasy/Magical Realism blend is truly a unique and engrossing read.Vrana's complex characters take center stage, each coping with their own pains of the past on their rocky road to redemption. Miya, a young woman struggling with the cards she's been dealt, suffering from crippling anxiety and depression. She's her own worst enemy, and witnessing her emergence from within her fragile shell, becoming the woman she was always meant to be, is definitely something special to behold. Mason, a resident doctor who has learned the damaging effects of arrogance, he believes he's left with nothing but tragedy and guilt. His intended escape from his own dire reality leads to his world views crumbling to dust at his feet. Kai, the lone wolf living beyond the world of man, hunted and haunted and hurting, finds comfort in the most unexpected of places. Although Vrana labels the POV of the chapter being read, each is told with a specific voice, there's no mistaking whose eyes we're peering though. "Because you're not afraid of the dark. You came looking for it." As expected, there's a convergence of these characters, each so distinctly different, yet each complementing the others. There's no shortage of snark and sass, barely veiled insults, and gorgeous transformation. There's also an underlying romantic element to this book; tender moments and playful banter leading to sexual tension you could cut with a knife. While it does seem a bit rushed and unrealistic, things become clear as the story continues, all the pieces carefully falling into place.An area this book excels is the atmospheric and immersive worldbuilding. Set in the quaint and quiet Black Hollow, this small British Columbia town harbors many ghastly secrets and superstitions. Local lore has the people on edge, always looking to horizon for the next string of unfortunate events to begin yet again. Beyond its borders lies a dark forest blanketed in fog, a dreamlike setting that houses histories long forgotten. While the fear of sinister fables torments the townspeople, there's magic and mysteries to be discovered along the meandering paths beneath the forest canopy, and solace to be found beneath the languid branches of the ancient willow. Vrana easily transports readers to another place and time, so perfectly crafted and portrayed. Creation…destruction…we think of them as opposites, and yet they are like brothers–two sides of the same coin. The narrative itself is told in exceptionally polished prose, infused with subtle metaphors and surreal elements that requires attention and an open mind to navigate. Beneath what is presented on the surface lies an intelligent discussion inviting readers to dig deeper, not only into the book's content, but into their own beliefs, as well. To be clear, this is not an epic adventure, but a highly personal account of finding the truth, of finding your true self and purpose. A story within a story, Vrana seamlessly shifts between timelines, points of view, and states of consciousness, allowing for a charming and comfortable read that's nearly impossible to put down.The Hollow Gods was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020, and this beautiful tale of acceptance has far exceeded any and all expectations I had prior to falling deeply into A. J. Vrana's dark and magical world. Utterly consuming with palpable emotion, an engaging mystery, and absolutely delicious tension, this is one that lingers after you've turned the final page, an itch that needs to be scratched. The conclusion of the book is left open for readers to discern on their own, but the fateful ending is not meant to be the end, but just the beginning.If you're on the hunt for something a bit dark yet cozy, and unafraid to color outside the lines, then The Hollow Gods may just be what you're looking for.My Rating: 4.5, but I'll round up!Note: A huge thank you to the author for providing me with a complementary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.P.S. Despite what others are saying, this is not a werewolf book. This is the story of the Dreamwalker, her wolf, and the coming darkness.
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  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    The most appealing thing about the Hollow Gods is the degree to which it trusts the reader; recounting surface details doesn't do it justice because so many of them serve as jump off points to explore more complex ideas and whilst the author's voice is clear in the text, AJ Vrana has the good sense to not spell things out and give the reader room to process the books' arguments for themself. The overarching plot may stand on fairly firm ground of the conventions of its genre, but these tropes ar The most appealing thing about the Hollow Gods is the degree to which it trusts the reader; recounting surface details doesn't do it justice because so many of them serve as jump off points to explore more complex ideas and whilst the author's voice is clear in the text, AJ Vrana has the good sense to not spell things out and give the reader room to process the books' arguments for themself. The overarching plot may stand on fairly firm ground of the conventions of its genre, but these tropes are deployed with a great degree of intention. If you're willing to look under the hood, there's a lot to discover. At times this can become a problem; I found a lot of the supernatural elements less interesting than the meta-textual arguments they articulated, but this may also be the result of not being a habitual reader of the genre. But at the same time, the books invitation to play with, interrogate and argue over these tropes more than kept me interested. Whilst the folklore aspects of the book are fictional and don't explicitly reference historical mythologies in the same way, at many points I was reminded of Neil Gaiman's way of playing with such stories.Because of its subject matter many will be tempted to classify this as YA fiction - a tag often used to unjustly dismiss genre lit out of hand - and whilst I can imagine many a young reader will get a kick out of this, much of the book speaks to the experiences and concerns of so called "millenials". Indeed, the range of the protagonists' ages from early 20s to early 30s feels very intentional in that regard, and readers in the higher end of that range in particular should find a lot to empathise with. So yeah, I got a lot out of it. Looking forward to the next one, and to getting my hands on a physical copy to re-read it!
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  • Randi Maguire
    January 1, 1970
    I just want to start this review by thanking Alex for sending me a copy of her book to read and review! I also want to praise how amazing Alex is as a person. I’ve had dealings with other authors in the past, and she is my favourite one to talk to so far! So seriously, koodos to her for that. And she will be an auto-buy author for me because she’s so awesome! But also because this book was AMAZE BALLS.This book is written in 3 different perspectives: Kai Donovan (a werewolf (perhaps)), Miya (a t I just want to start this review by thanking Alex for sending me a copy of her book to read and review! I also want to praise how amazing Alex is as a person. I’ve had dealings with other authors in the past, and she is my favourite one to talk to so far! So seriously, koodos to her for that. And she will be an auto-buy author for me because she’s so awesome! But also because this book was AMAZE BALLS.This book is written in 3 different perspectives: Kai Donovan (a werewolf (perhaps)), Miya (a troubled university student), and Mason Evans (also troubled, in his residency as an oncologist).They are all in this weird Canadian town (bonus points for Canadian, EXTRA bonus points for mentioning Timmies). This town believes that there is a Dreamwalker and her black wolf that whisks away girls in her woods. These girls go missing... then they come back, yet not themselves? Or so believed. So whabang, their fathers or the town kill these girls. What the heckkkkkkk.So Mason, who’s like “I’m a doctor and none of this seems real” is trying to debunk all this. Basically, I’m a total Mason. Just this realist going wtf is even happening.Anyways!! I was surprised by the amount of detail and lore that was included in the story. It made it so mystical feeling. The writing style was beautiful and it was easy to read.There were parts that were tots cheesy, but I’m all for some Swiss sometimes!All in all, I enjoyed the heck outta this book. And look out Alex, I’m buying all your stuff!
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  • Wren Handman
    January 1, 1970
    Vrana's debut novel is such a treat! The writing is lush and vivid, and the story is a really unique fantasy that doesn't feel quite like anything else. There are some goosebumps-raising spooky moments, some dreamy fantasy, and some really captivating characters to draw it all together. I liked that no one was black and white, and that the complicated nature of their interactions felt solid and earned. Looking forward to reading the next one.
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  • Kelly918
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely brilliant read. Had me gripped from the first sentence. Brilliant storyline from beginning to end. Highly recommend if you like fantasy style genre
  • Sajid
    January 1, 1970
    Actual Rating - 3.5 stars, leaning towards the 4. I recieved an ARC from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. I chose to read this book because of an interesting premise, however I didn't think I'd like it, because of the mini-reading-slump it sent me to in about 50 pages in. I'm here to tell you that this book is worth pushing through, and I'm glad that I did.I'll be listing off thinks I dislike and then likes because it makes things easier.-Setting up the character motivations ended up Actual Rating - 3.5 stars, leaning towards the 4. I recieved an ARC from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. I chose to read this book because of an interesting premise, however I didn't think I'd like it, because of the mini-reading-slump it sent me to in about 50 pages in. I'm here to tell you that this book is worth pushing through, and I'm glad that I did.I'll be listing off thinks I dislike and then likes because it makes things easier.-Setting up the character motivations ended up taking a bit too long. The beginning is just... so boring to me. I know it's a double sided coin, because the character motivation will be on my "likes" list. It ended up adding to the story more than I expected it would. To be honest, I did not care for it for the first 35% of it.-I've been thinking about why I fell into the reading slump. I found out after some speculation that it's a mixture of pacing and tone. The book is like really intense. That's usually a good thing, but the problem here is that it is CONSTANTLY intense. It'd help if the pacing slowed down a bit, or if the tone lightened up after the intense scene. I physically had to stop reading to take a breather and actively sought out a lighter read. It's not a good thing because I just stop caring after 1-2 days pass. Then I had to force myself to pick the book up again. It can go on for only for so long. - The metaphors. I'll be honest this is half my fault because I'm probably too stupid to get it. It's just a minor inconvenience , but it's there. Onto the gushing,- The love interest, Kai. It's sad that I have to say this, but Thank God that this book does not romanticize abuse nor the jerks. Kai just had a rough time and needs a hug. He knows his limits, he knows when he's being *actually* rude. What I'm trying to say is, that Kai is the bad boy trope done right.- I'm happy to say that this book did NOT end up featuring the inescapable love triangle. Due to the circumstances in the last 30% of the book, with The First, I was dreading that it would end up in a love triangle. Thankfully [ and I cannot repeat this enough times] it did NOT. Everything beats in cycles -I haven't read much of horror-fantasy. I must say that this is done really well. The way the author has merged the two genres, is beyond praiseworthy. People have always feared the unknown. The have learned to fear everything magical. A great horror is always based on reality; the fears everlasting. This story actually reminded me of the witch hunts of the 1400s. I felt bad for the innocent souls, and I'm terrifies because this type of town mentality still prevails in many parts of the world. The girls of this town were MURDERED because they changed, because they were showing normal teenage behavior. Because they were not still smiling when the pressures we face growing up pushed them down. Stories aren't told to convey the facts. They're told to convey the truth It is very realistic on what is going on these days. So... yeah the Horror part was done expertly, and it was blended in with the fantastic elements perfectly. In conclusion, this book has some flaws, and it has some strengths. I'm glad I read it, and I'm interested in the next book. Read the book if you want to, and thank you if you've read this far into the review. Happy Reading :D
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  • Jess (Iorelyn)
    January 1, 1970
    I received and E-arc of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.In a town where folklore becomes horror, three people are drawn into the ultimate fight against an ancient evil that threatens to repeat a cycle of death. Kai, a young man who continuously wakes up next to previously missing, and now dead girls. Miya, a young student who slowly starts seeing the connection to the supposed Dreamwalker, who's kidnapped girls in the small town of Black Hollow. Mason, an oncologist run I received and E-arc of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.In a town where folklore becomes horror, three people are drawn into the ultimate fight against an ancient evil that threatens to repeat a cycle of death. Kai, a young man who continuously wakes up next to previously missing, and now dead girls. Miya, a young student who slowly starts seeing the connection to the supposed Dreamwalker, who's kidnapped girls in the small town of Black Hollow. Mason, an oncologist running from his guilt, who starts to tug at the thread of the town's bleakest fable. I fully, and unabashedly loved this book. I admit, horror themes are difficult for me to read and judge. As it's rare to find something that leave me actually getting chills. Yet, here I am. From the first 10% of the book I was hooked and becoming drawn more into the fable of the Dreamwalker and her wolves. From 30% in I literally couldn't put it down till I finished it. I enjoyed each POV we were introduced to, which is rare for me as there is always one I end up fighting and struggling reading. This book was absolutely chill inducing and brutal when it came to language, it made it feel so alive. Time to lose your wayThe Hollows still got hell to payAnd I can't wait to see what more hell A.J. Vrana has in store for this series.
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  • Kaitlyn
    January 1, 1970
    What a fantastic novel! Readers are going to be drawn into the thrillingly sinister world A.J. Vrana has weaved. Full of beautiful creatures and a hauntingly dark town with a disturbing history, "The Hollow Gods" is a novel that will unsettle as much as awe its readers as they are introduced to this satisfyingly grim tale.Black Hollow is a remote village located north of Vancouver, seemingly ordinary on the surface but with a sinister undercoating. Mason is an oncologist who flees to Black Hollo What a fantastic novel! Readers are going to be drawn into the thrillingly sinister world A.J. Vrana has weaved. Full of beautiful creatures and a hauntingly dark town with a disturbing history, "The Hollow Gods" is a novel that will unsettle as much as awe its readers as they are introduced to this satisfyingly grim tale.Black Hollow is a remote village located north of Vancouver, seemingly ordinary on the surface but with a sinister undercoating. Mason is an oncologist who flees to Black Hollow to escape a traumatic past, only to discover this small-town has a dark and ghastly secret no one is willing to talk about. Girls are going missing in their town and they return different ... changed. Residents claim it is the myth of the dreamwalker and her wolves, stealing girls into the forest and returning them possessed.Kai is prickly, short-tempered, foul-mouthed, and deliciously sarcastic through every rough go life throws at him, even when he wakes up next to the corpses of girls. He's left no memory of how they died and whether he's the one responsible. All he knows is these are the girls who returned to Black Hollow, different and changed, and now brutally murdered.Miya is on academic probation, spiraling down a rabbit hole of indecisiveness and anxiety around what the future holds for her. When she begins to get terrifying, gruesome dreams, she's convinced the dreamwalker has targeted her.All three of these characters are pulled into the village's myth, fighting to uncover its frightening history. With several girls dead, figuring out what is happening in Black Hollow and why is no longer important. If they want to have any hope of protecting more girls from dying, including Miya, they have to find a way to stop this myth from continuing to play out.Vrana is a perceptive, thorough, and wonderfully descriptive author and I am incredibly grateful to have stumbled upon this novel. Every debut novel has its ups and downs, especially when creating a multi-perspective tale, but not Vrana's. Each character has a strong, distinctive voice that easily weaves the story together without there ever being an ounce of confusion to the tale or which character has momentarily taken over. They are powerful, full of emotion, and readers are guaranteed to fall in love with Kai and Miya's playful and sexy banter, along with Mason's admirable and deeply rooted emotional ties to helping those in pain. The mysterious presence of Ama and the charming Raven, Kafka, add a rich blend of magical realism into the story. This is one of the most gripping, fascinating, and wickedly mysterious novels I've read in a long time that had me finishing the story in just two days. Vrana's writing is highly addictive, weaving a world of folklore and myths so visceral and richly detailed that it's guaranteed to send shivers down a reader's spine."The Hollow Gods" by A.J Vrana is going to be one of the most anticipated reads for this year if it's not already!(I received an advance review copy for free through BookSirens and I have written an honest review in exchange.)
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  • Alex Khlopenko
    January 1, 1970
    A.J. Vrana’s debut “The Hollow Gods” is an exciting contemporary horror-fantasy that shines when it declines to play frights, which are easy, and instead explores dread, collective and generational grief, trauma, and historical responsibility. We follow Miya – a local girl of the Black Hollow (where the entire book takes places) with a close connection to local folklore; Kai – a bad boy, beef jerky enthusiast and werewolf (in that order); and Mason – a young oncologist who lost his first patient A.J. Vrana’s debut “The Hollow Gods” is an exciting contemporary horror-fantasy that shines when it declines to play frights, which are easy, and instead explores dread, collective and generational grief, trauma, and historical responsibility. We follow Miya – a local girl of the Black Hollow (where the entire book takes places) with a close connection to local folklore; Kai – a bad boy, beef jerky enthusiast and werewolf (in that order); and Mason – a young oncologist who lost his first patient and decided to leave the city and embark on a myth-busting adventure for therapeutic reasons. All of them are different, and all of them are a lot of fun to experience the horror/mystery plot through. The character roster offers three slices (even more glimpses from secondary characters) of life of different social orders, different ways of life – from the disenfranchised and marginalized Kai who lives in the woods and eats from the hands of the good Samaritans on parking lots, to struggling university student Miya, to the successful, financially well-off, but miserable Mason. The citizens of the titular Black Hollow village play a collective character, a terrifyingly complex and multifaceted glimpse into the multigenerational grief over a mistake, made hundreds of years ago, that still torments the populace. The solution is established early on – to face the music, to accept the responsibility and move on. Mirroring the reluctance of the so-called Western World to accept and process its past, the citizens of Black Hollow prefer to pay the blood price and sacrifice their young instead. A significant part of the fun of the characters, and the overall success of the book, is A.J. Vrana’s firm belief in the power of stories. Even before the book begins, she established that “stories aren’t told to convey the facts. They’re told to convey the truth…”. That is why the fragmented, surgically precise narrative builds from the utterly, painfully ordinary to the absurd, and fantastic. And then Vrana gives us the scenes in the cabin in the woods where the characters traverse realities through the dreamscapes to meet the mythological and surreal horrors and spirits. The sense of dread and fantastic felt like the Lacanian Real as opposed to the repressing real of the characters' lives. If the first part is reminiscent of Stephen King in his peak years, the second tries to embrace the weirdness of Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Even if “Hollow Gods” doesn’t go the full length to accept the inherent Lynch-ism of its narrative, it makes all the right conclusions. The fantastical is not used to excuse the sins of the Black Hollow residents and the necessity to accept the past and assume responsibility is not spirited away by the literal spirits. Instead, Miya, Kai, and Mason accept it and assumed it. A.J. Vrana produced an observant, to the point of claustrophobically real, a portrait of human nature – both as a collective and a very personal one.
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  • Danae
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you, NetGalley for allowing me to read a copy of this book.The Hollow Gods by A. J. Vrana did not disappoint at all. I finished this book in a day and it was hard to leave the book because it has everything that I love to read and write in a book: curses, superstitious people, flawed characters that at least try (finally someone gets anxiety attacks because I could relate to Miya a lot in this book), wolves that might be both (wo)man and wolf, dreamscapes, and fables wrapped around mytholo Thank you, NetGalley for allowing me to read a copy of this book.The Hollow Gods by A. J. Vrana did not disappoint at all. I finished this book in a day and it was hard to leave the book because it has everything that I love to read and write in a book: curses, superstitious people, flawed characters that at least try (finally someone gets anxiety attacks because I could relate to Miya a lot in this book), wolves that might be both (wo)man and wolf, dreamscapes, and fables wrapped around mythology.The world-building is incredible and I was loathed to leave it. The characters had me wanting to hug them and protect them from the nasty villagers who let their own fears bring new life into the fables. Also, anything with reincarnation that has characters being other characters in a previous life will have me on my knees begging for more and I salute the author for being able to pull it off.If you want to read more of my crazy fangirl talk, you can check out my full review at https://bookgirlreviewsbooks.blogspot...All I will say is that Kai can be my Big Bad Wolf anytime he wants to be;) (but I will bow out graciously because of Miya)If I could give it 500 out of 5 stars I would, but since the system doesn't go that high... 5 out of 5 stars times 100;)
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  • Priyank Jain
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Netgalley for this awesome ARC in exchange for an honest review. Horror: 5/5Fantasy: 4/5Contemporary: 4/5 Overall: 4.5/5 “Only two reasons why people go looking for monsters,” Miya mimicked his didactics, and not without a touch of mockery. “Either they’re bored, or they want something from the monster.” Blurb: This shifting perspective contemporary Horror-fantasy fiction cum Fairy Tale is a novel for ages with its ghastly setting, cryptic plot which all the protagonists are tr Thank you Netgalley for this awesome ARC in exchange for an honest review. Horror: 5/5Fantasy: 4/5Contemporary: 4/5 Overall: 4.5/5 “Only two reasons why people go looking for monsters,” Miya mimicked his didactics, and not without a touch of mockery. “Either they’re bored, or they want something from the monster.” Blurb: This shifting perspective contemporary Horror-fantasy fiction cum Fairy Tale is a novel for ages with its ghastly setting, cryptic plot which all the protagonists are trying to solve, not knowing how deep this rabbit hole goes LITERALLY. Meet Kai, the big bad; Miya the damsel-not-so-much-in-distress and Mason the doctor who has a detective bug up his brain. They will keep meeting each other, but also not? What is happening? No one knows. Or no one who is from this realm knows. By the end, you will be gasping for air, which is ironical to say in the least.Ease of language: written in very beautiful, to the point language, with NO WORDS WASTED. Kudos to Author who is also a fellow literature PhD scholar....Cheers!Strength: Shifting perspective makes it interesting. This formula is although used by many, but its always a hit and miss. And here it was a hit. Also everyone gets equal screentime. Witty writing is topnotch as well. Take a look at this quote belowAugust was a bitch even the devil wouldn’t want to fuck.Weakness: somewhat predictable end if you know this genre and is familiar with tropes. But even then the ending doesn't matter. Its the journey that counted.Why to Read: Right amount of Horror, with enough spices to make a Lasagna. Not too sweet, not too salty and many layers.Why not to Read: if Horror gives you creeps, and shifting perspectives make your head spin. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~QOTD: What was your favorite Fairy Tale growing up?For more book reviews, Follow my Instagram account
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  • Rowena Andrews
    January 1, 1970
         I was searching for something a little different when I found ‘The Hollow Gods’, and I certainly got what I was looking for. I fell in love with the cover at first sight, and the title intrigued me as did the summary. I have a soft spot for folklore at the best of time, and this seemed like an interesting twist on that idea, and it was. It took me a few chapters to get into the book, but once I did, I was hooked. While folklore and the role it plays within a community is central to the stor      I was searching for something a little different when I found ‘The Hollow Gods’, and I certainly got what I was looking for. I fell in love with the cover at first sight, and the title intrigued me as did the summary. I have a soft spot for folklore at the best of time, and this seemed like an interesting twist on that idea, and it was. It took me a few chapters to get into the book, but once I did, I was hooked. While folklore and the role it plays within a community is central to the story, it weaves through several genres, and I would find it hard to classify it under a singular genre, which I think is a massive part of its appeal.    The story itself is split between three very different narrators, all following their own paths through the story, and it felt very much to me that I was with them on those paths, discovering new secrets and answers, alongside them. The. Each character was well developed in their own right, as well as through their connections with one another, and there were aspects of what they were struggling with or searching for that you can’t fail to identify with. The relationships between them, the folklore and the rest of the town were intricate, and there was an ambiguity to it all. That, rather than leaving you lost or drifting away from the story, kept you hooked and chasing the answers.   There were a couple of places where the language choices jolted me out of the flow, but it only happened a couple of times and was more a personal tic than anything, and for the most part, I found the language beautifully reflective of the story. It felt like a folktale, in terms of language but also in the storytelling method, but one that the reader is experiencing for themselves.    My favourite part of the book is how it explores folklore and how it is experienced – as a story, a dream, a part of history – and how stories can become something far more if people believe in them strongly enough. ‘Stories aren’t told to convey the facts. They’re told the convey the truth’ – is something very real, and very present in our lives, and here it is explored and addressed in a way that is not only relevant, but which is accessible, and I loved it.   I would highly recommend this book for anyone with interest in folklore, magical realism, and a dark touch of horror. An absolutely stunning debut from this author. I have pre-ordered my own copy of the book, and I am very much looking forward to the second book in ‘The Chaos Cycle’.
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  • Sienna
    January 1, 1970
    5 starsI was lucky enough to receive an E-arc for review.I have no idea how I am supposed to articulate how much I loved this book but I will try!!Also, to A.J Vrana, her support system, and writing team, Congratulations on creating an amazing world that is done in this debut book. It was phenomenal!!!I am calling this now as my 2 favorite book of this year only one book has the potential to surpass it and that is Sarah J Maas's new adult fantasy. Very high praise from me if you do not know me. 5 starsI was lucky enough to receive an E-arc for review.I have no idea how I am supposed to articulate how much I loved this book but I will try!!Also, to A.J Vrana, her support system, and writing team, Congratulations on creating an amazing world that is done in this debut book. It was phenomenal!!!I am calling this now as my 2 favorite book of this year only one book has the potential to surpass it and that is Sarah J Maas's new adult fantasy. Very high praise from me if you do not know me. This book is fantasy but I also feel it has hints of magical realism, but I do not read magical realism enough to state soundly that it could be as well but I deeply believe if you like magical realism and folklore/mythology this book is for you. Summary:This book is about fictional folklore for a small village that believes there is a dream walker that abducts girls and when they come back they are missing something that makes them not themselves. The families believe this so religiously that the families are turning on them. The story also keeps the plot going with mysteries of who is the dream walker, and why is she abducting girls. The book on top of lore has mythology that created some great terrifying elements. There are other small questions introduced and followed as well but I do not wish to dull the potential of this book by saying too much. Vrana truly has created such complex lore and history to this village that it seems real in an overwhelmingly immersive and wonderful way. ProsThere will not be many because when everything is good it is hard to pinpoint what good you appreciated most!1. ALL THE CHARACTERS ARE STRONG! I cannot tell you how long it has been since I have overwhelming loved and been engrossed in a book. Each character was thought out in my mind and I enjoyed all three. I won't lie I do have a preference for the prickly asshole though!! His rude humor made me giggle. Way to go Kai!2. The ending was very satisfying. Yes, I have questions but it is going to have another book and it gave me all the feels. ConsI do not have a single one and as soon as I submit this I am going to preorder this and gush about it to anyone I can bring it up in conversation with.Highly recommend
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  • Donna
    January 1, 1970
    Have you ever finished a book and thought, how do I write this review? Well I’m left with that thought after reading The Hollow Gods. It is a complex, hard to pin down genre. I guess maybe dark urban fantasy/horror...but then there is just so much more to it. It is filled with fables, mythology, nightmares and woods that are like a maze, that make you loose direction and time. The woods and the willow tree are so much more than they appear. Inside there are werewolves, a dreamwalker, a raven and Have you ever finished a book and thought, how do I write this review? Well I’m left with that thought after reading The Hollow Gods. It is a complex, hard to pin down genre. I guess maybe dark urban fantasy/horror...but then there is just so much more to it. It is filled with fables, mythology, nightmares and woods that are like a maze, that make you loose direction and time. The woods and the willow tree are so much more than they appear. Inside there are werewolves, a dreamwalker, a raven and so much more. The world building is amazing!I loved Kai, he is rude, moody and violent. But there is so much more to him, as Miya finds out. Miya is a badass heroine, but she’s also flawed and real. Mason is a grieving doctor who has come to the small town to recover from the trauma of losing a patient. He is trying to prove that the fable the village believes is not real. He feels he will end his grieving this way. The characters are so well written that I became emotionally tied to them. I was drawn to the book by the amazing cover. I love ravens and the cover of the book, with the raven and it’s purples and black, is beautiful and unique!!! Like the story. It is truly a unique story, not really comparable to any that I’ve read. It is beautiful and horrifying at the same time. And it leaves you with a hangover, unable to stop thinking about it.
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