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The Hollow Gods

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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 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?


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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 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?

30 review for The Hollow Gods

  1. 4 out of 5

    booksnpenguins

    "This town's legends, its mysteries, and its secrets - they make you feel alive, don't they?" HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO MY FAVORITE DEBUT OF THE YEAR! 🎉🎉🎉 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 whatev "This town's legends, its mysteries, and its secrets - they make you feel alive, don't they?" HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO MY FAVORITE DEBUT OF THE YEAR! 🎉🎉🎉 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 If you've read this and haven't had enough of Kai like I did, give yourself a favor and read this gem that Alex and her friend Inky gifted us with ----> https://thechaoscycle.com/interview-w... 😍😍😍

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    "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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

    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 stars This 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 stars This 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ari

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. BLOG | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon Thank 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 binding and 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 | Amazon Thank 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 binding and 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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Candace Robinson

    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!

  6. 4 out of 5

    A.J. Vrana

    ***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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    Ummm, this sounds AMAZING!!! Ummm, this sounds AMAZING!!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Frankie Lovely

    4.5 stars I received a copy of this book in exchange for an 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! 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 4.5 stars I received a copy of this book in exchange for an 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! 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Inkslinger

    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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Athena (OneReadingNurse)

    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! 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, 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! 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 at the start. 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 to the action. 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!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katya de Becerra

    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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Heather Lou Reads

    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!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Krystal

    DNF @ 30% Look, this was probably more me than the book, but it's a tough call. I was reading an e-copy, which meant it was already likely to be neglected, and unfortunately it just wasn't captivating enough to remind me to go back to it. It's clearly ambitious, but for me it just seemed a little too messy and sprawling and it always took me a while to pick the thread back up. There are multiple viewpoints, and Kai has some issues that are so vague they're confusing more than intriguing. Overall, it DNF @ 30% Look, this was probably more me than the book, but it's a tough call. I was reading an e-copy, which meant it was already likely to be neglected, and unfortunately it just wasn't captivating enough to remind me to go back to it. It's clearly ambitious, but for me it just seemed a little too messy and sprawling and it always took me a while to pick the thread back up. There are multiple viewpoints, and Kai has some issues that are so vague they're confusing more than intriguing. Overall, it seemed to be trying a little too hard. It felt amateur and messy and crass. It was clunky and awkward in the way it set scenes and crafted dialogue, and on the whole just made me want to cringe a lot. I did enjoy Mason's POV to a degree, because he seemed like an interesting character, but some of the scenes were so cliche it was embarrassing. Kai's attitude was overdone, and the girl was so bland I can't even remember her name or the point of her even being in this story. Perhaps if I had a physical copy of this book it'd be easier to read, but I think it's just a little under-edited so I'd probably still end up cringing a lot as I skimmed my way through it. There really are a lot of cheesy moments and scenes and the whole thing came off as unbelievable. There's promise in the idea, and the creation of the world, but the delivery was off. The characters are two-dimensional and the story is so vague that 30% in it seemed that nothing had really happened and I wasn't even curious about what was to come. Others who have more patience than I (and a better track record with e-books) might appreciate this one a little more, and perhaps the reward is beyond the 30% mark. But for me there just hasn't been enough to hook me into reading further. With thanks to Netgalley for a copy

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maja Ingrid

    3,5 stars In Black Hollow, there’s an old tale about the Dreamwalker, an evil entity who’s said to lure young girls away from their homes and into the woods, guided by her wolves. When the girls return to society, they’re no longer themselves but changed. By the Dreamwalker. And every girl that returns soon ends up dead. Fear strikes the society when a missing girl returns out of the woods, everyone thinking the story is repeating itself. The girl soon ends up dead. The book follows three charac 3,5 stars In Black Hollow, there’s an old tale about the Dreamwalker, an evil entity who’s said to lure young girls away from their homes and into the woods, guided by her wolves. When the girls return to society, they’re no longer themselves but changed. By the Dreamwalker. And every girl that returns soon ends up dead. Fear strikes the society when a missing girl returns out of the woods, everyone thinking the story is repeating itself. The girl soon ends up dead. The book follows three characters: Miya, Kai, and Mason. Myia is facing a few issues with life and university. She’s the one who finds the missing girl and soon she’s sure she’ll be the Dreamwalker’s next victim. She’s headstrong and determined and I love that she’s not having any of Kai’s bullshit. Waking up with no memories next to a dead girl, a lot of stuff point out Kai working for the Dreamwalker. He’s determined to disprove that he's not. (view spoiler)[being a wolf-shapeshifter doesn't really make that easier (hide spoiler)] . He’s a bit of an asshole. He does some creepy stuff towards Miya, but she’s quick to beat that out of him. Out of the three, I think Kai was my least favourite. Mason comes to Black Hollow after a tragic experience at his work. He’s mystified by the events going on in this small town and is determined to get to the roots about the Dreamwalker legend. He’s very sweet and a bit naïve and only wants to see logic in the whole situation. These characters get entwined with each other as the legend unfolds. Kai and Miya come together early in the book, but for the longest time, I struggled to see what Mason's part was in all this. For most of the part, it felt like he only served as exposition for the legend. The book is dark and atmospheric, and a quick, easy read, despite my current brainfog. writing this review does help clearing it. It was interesting to see just how deeply rooted the legend of the Dreamwalker is in the people of Black Hollow, and also learning the main characters’ part in it. I am curious on how this duology will end in the next book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Frenette

    The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana Pub date 07/28/20 Black Hollow has a secret. I have to say this was probably the best contemporary fantasy I've read all year. The world building and the writing were brilliant. "Was the Dreamwalker coming for her because she wanted to disappear? To get away from her life and live in some distant fairy tale? Miya had always yearned for something more." Local folklore said a black wolf would lead lost girls to the Dreamwalker. And when the girls were found they were not The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana Pub date 07/28/20 Black Hollow has a secret. I have to say this was probably the best contemporary fantasy I've read all year. The world building and the writing were brilliant. "Was the Dreamwalker coming for her because she wanted to disappear? To get away from her life and live in some distant fairy tale? Miya had always yearned for something more." Local folklore said a black wolf would lead lost girls to the Dreamwalker. And when the girls were found they were not themselves anymore. For anyone who loves a great fantasy book. I recommend you get this one when it goes on sale. 07/28/20. Thank you to the publisher and to #booksirens for the advanced copy for an honest review. 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐🙌

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dee Arr

    I didn’t expect the depth of storytelling that was present in this novel. The jaded feeling comes from the glut of fantasy novels on the market today. Some lack originality while others are good but should be receiving a necessary rewrite. There are a few that almost reach the top, clinging and praying not to experience the inevitable fall. And then there are books like “The Hollow Gods” by A. J. Vrana. The author has created something original, beginning with a legend similar to those in many sm I didn’t expect the depth of storytelling that was present in this novel. The jaded feeling comes from the glut of fantasy novels on the market today. Some lack originality while others are good but should be receiving a necessary rewrite. There are a few that almost reach the top, clinging and praying not to experience the inevitable fall. And then there are books like “The Hollow Gods” by A. J. Vrana. The author has created something original, beginning with a legend similar to those in many small towns. From there it became more than a story to scare children with as there are actual deaths, proof that something is going on. Ms. Vrana then proceeds to take the story to the next level, and then the one after that until she brings us to an ending that was totally unexpected. The characters of Miya, Kai, and Mason are all connected to the legend (or at least they feel that way), and their perspectives are explained to us as they swap the storytelling duty. With this method, Ms. Vrana is able to fill in all the current events as well as the back story, thus providing a seamless stream of events that lead us closer and closer to the truth. If there was anything that I felt intruded on the quality of this book, it was the overuse of vulgarities. These do not automatically turn me away from a book or cause me to stop reading, and there are plenty of books on my shelves that could be considered greater in quantity than Ms. Vrana’s novel. If these words add to a story or are necessary to better establish a character, I am in agreement concerning their use. I did not feel that way while reading “The Hollow Gods.” The author’s powerful writing is always present, exposing what we need to see (and how to see it) and guiding us to an ending that gives a feeling of conclusion and ensures this book – even though it is the first in a series – can identify as a standalone. Recommended for fantasy and horror fans. Four-and-a-half stars. My thanks to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for a complimentary electronic copy of this title.

  17. 4 out of 5

    The Coycaterpillar Reads

    The Hollow Gods made me feel like I was transported to another dimension. So many things brought the supremely imaginative plot to life. It was the kind of book that you forgot you were actually reading – it felt like an out of body experience. I almost felt like I could feel the wind blowing in my hair and my eyes witnessing the spectacular vistas that the author so expertly inserted me into the bones of the novel. Black Hollow. A place with a dark history. A magical source of unquestionable po The Hollow Gods made me feel like I was transported to another dimension. So many things brought the supremely imaginative plot to life. It was the kind of book that you forgot you were actually reading – it felt like an out of body experience. I almost felt like I could feel the wind blowing in my hair and my eyes witnessing the spectacular vistas that the author so expertly inserted me into the bones of the novel. Black Hollow. A place with a dark history. A magical source of unquestionable power. A place that is revered for many a good reason. A place that wouldn’t be out of place in some fantasy series on Netflix. Girls that occasionally go missing, they return to their families who descend into madness and kill them. Interested? Good, because it only gets better from here. There are mutterings that a girl named Dream walker is behind the killings having being ostracized a number of years ago. Is it possible that revenge is the motivator or is something more obscure at play? Trying to decide and decipher the decisions and motivations of the characters had me hungering for more details. Any little titbit of information that Vrana gave me had me on my knees being grateful for the smallest morsel. The Hollow Gods was written in such a fantastical way that the reader immediately feels that they are in the centre of the plot. We have the luxury of having three perspectives, Kai – a shapeshifting wolf who is heartbreakingly human. A psyche that is at war with itself. Miya, a girl that is at one with the woods, it has been her safe space, but will the realisation that she could be Dreamwalkers next victim change that perspective? Finally, Mason, a legend hunter who is determined to uncover the truth, come what may. The pace at which this narrative careened along had my appetite truly whetted. Fasten your seatbelts because the pace will make your head go wild! The story has everything you could possibly need and crave in a fantasy novel. The hope that constantly builds up in your heart, the fear that is imbedded in the book’s DNA and the intense thoughts and feelings that get wracked from your body. I finished the book over a week ago and it still gives me goosebumps, it was a magical experience. The characterisation gives the tangible thread to humanity and the reader is given a logical but imaginative appreciation of the worldbuilding from that basis. The Hollow Gods features a bit of romance, but I loved how that wasn’t the actual storyline, it enhanced and propped the plot up. There’s mystery and intrigue and characters that you just can’t help but fall for. The learning curve and fighting in the characters corner gave everything a three-dimensional experience. Everything came full circle and I couldn’t help but smile at the direction and conclusion that the story took. The Hollow Gods was just one of those books where I was entranced from beginning to end. It was intense, immersive and Vrana’s prose is utterly spellbinding. Thanks once again to The Storytellers On Tour for my place on the blog tour and organising yet another stellar tour.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    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.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Malorie

    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.***

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlyn

    "Miya finally understood fables were not merely stories inscribed on the pages of reality. They were a storm that ripped those pages from their binding and re-wrote the world from scratch." 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 satisfying "Miya finally understood fables were not merely stories inscribed on the pages of reality. They were a storm that ripped those pages from their binding and re-wrote the world from scratch." 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.)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Celia McMahon

    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.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Patty (IheartYA)

    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.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Holly Rigel

    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!!!!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Book Barbarian (Tammy Smith)

    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 SHIT The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana (spoiler free reviews) Book 1 in a Duology Publish Date: July 28th 2020 Cover Rating: 5/10 Adult - Fantasy –Fiction –Fairy Tale Twist - Horror EXPLAIN THE BOOK IN ONE ACCURATE SENTENCE: Three people come together to fight an ancient evil in a town called Black Hollow WHAT 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 SHIT The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana (spoiler free reviews) Book 1 in a Duology Publish Date: July 28th 2020 Cover Rating: 5/10 Adult - Fantasy –Fiction –Fairy Tale Twist - Horror EXPLAIN THE BOOK IN ONE ACCURATE SENTENCE: Three people come together to fight an ancient evil in a town called Black Hollow WHAT 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 TEA One 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

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shatarupa Dhar

    Synopsis: Emiliya (Miya) Delathorne is a twenty-year-old University student who has lived all her life in Black Hollow in British Columbia. She doesn't know what to expect from her life and is amused and equally scared of the supernatural stories that have forever floated around her town. Stories of an unknown entity, the Dreamwalker, who happens to kidnap young girls, release them, but who are later found dead. Miya fears for her own life when she sees some shadows that usually announce the Synopsis: Emiliya (Miya) Delathorne is a twenty-year-old University student who has lived all her life in Black Hollow in British Columbia. She doesn't know what to expect from her life and is amused and equally scared of the supernatural stories that have forever floated around her town. Stories of an unknown entity, the Dreamwalker, who happens to kidnap young girls, release them, but who are later found dead. Miya fears for her own life when she sees some shadows that usually announce the Dreamwalker's impending arrival. Kai Donovan wakes up next to the body of a dead girl he's pretty sure he didn't kill. It's a cycle he can't seem to escape, always waking up to dead bodies, without any knowledge of how he got there in the first place. But the voice never leaves him, egging him on to be more vicious. Dr Mason Evans, an oncologist from Vancouver, specifically reaches the quaint little town of Black Hollow to escape the demons that were haunting him. A patient of his had died due to his decisions and he wanted a quiet retreat. But as soon as he arrives in Black Hollow, he becomes obsessed with the supernatural of the town and wants to solve its mysteries. What happens when these three, in their own way, try to encounter the fable that has haunted the town for centuries? Review: Narrated in the third-person, the story follows from the perspectives of the three main characters – Miya, Kai, and Mason – trying to make sense of their world. I am a vampire girl, through and through, but I think I just fell in love with a wolf too. A.J. Vrana has created a beautifully haunting world in The Hollow Gods, her debut book. Stories aren’t told to convey the facts. They’re told to convey the truth. Book One of The Chaos Cycle, this had a plausible ending. But Mia, Kai, and Mason’s journey are still left. Mia reads the cards perfectly, but even that isn’t able to help set her life straight. She’s indecisive as to what to do in her life, who to be, and having spotted and helped the last girl to have been taken by the Dreamwalker, she feels compelled to investigate the mystery surrounding it. Little Red Riding Hood had more teeth than the Big Bad Wolf. I loved Kai, the way his character was shaped up, and the mystery surrounding him. And I am always on the lookout for a little bit of romance on the side and this story was just perfect for me. Mia and Kai were like a dream but with the necessary snark and adequate bite. Yes, I am all for wolfish references! The revelations toward the end, whether it be the history of the backstory, all served to make the book more interesting! The rich thrived at the expense of the poor; industry thrived at the expense of nature. It was quite a bit philosophical. Through the character of Mason, the author touched upon human nature and its fallacies as well as the persistent search for truth. While staying true to his character, everything Mason thought seemed to relate to our real world as well. Our doubts and need for facts. Sure, he thought humans were parasites scourging the earth, but the idea of kicking the bucket on the point of principle was so…human. The titles are so apt. You will know when you read the book. Especially the series title, which is cyclical in nature. A fable which has been circulating the town since 1868, driving the townsfolk crazy with a seemingly sinister presence. A story so atmospheric, an ending which kept me glued to the pages, this is a must-read for the fans of the supernatural. I eagerly look forward to what Book Two has in store for us. P.S. The Chaos Cycle Website is a treasure trove of information related to the series. Thank you to The Parliament House Press for an e-ARC of the book. Originally posted on: Shaina's Musings

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tana 🌻 Cozyreadings

    27/07/2020 e-copy provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review This was stunning! I can't even find words to describe how amazing this book was. It was so whimsical, so fairytale-like. I was sucked into the story immediately. I took my time with this, because I was forcing myself to. The characters were amazing, the legends, the way the dreams were described. This is a new favorite for sure. Now to start the hunt to find a copy of this book that ships to Belgium without breaking my b 27/07/2020 e-copy provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review This was stunning! I can't even find words to describe how amazing this book was. It was so whimsical, so fairytale-like. I was sucked into the story immediately. I took my time with this, because I was forcing myself to. The characters were amazing, the legends, the way the dreams were described. This is a new favorite for sure. Now to start the hunt to find a copy of this book that ships to Belgium without breaking my bankaccount...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sienna

    5 stars I 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 stars I 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. Pros There 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. Cons I 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

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alex Khlopenko

    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.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rowena Andrews

         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’.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Priyank Jain

    Thank you Netgalley for this awesome ARC in exchange for an honest review. Horror: 5/5 Fantasy: 4/5 Contemporary: 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: 5/5 Fantasy: 4/5 Contemporary: 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 below August 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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