Welcome to the latest review on my blog, westu hal to you. Welcome to my stop on the Hollow Gods blog tour, organised by the awesome Storytellers on Tour! Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour by clicking on this link here, Justine and Timy are doing a fantastic job for independent works!
I have a review today of a contemporary horror fantasy, complete with some wonderful Lovecraftian vibes and explores the idea of generational grief, trauma and responsibility. Here is the premise first for you:
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?
You follow three main POV’s in this story, Mia who is a local Black Hollow girl who happens to be closely linked to the folklore. Kai, a strange enigmatic character and Mason, a Onicologist who has lost a patient and comes to Black Hollow for respite. These are three different characters and as a reader, you experience three very different experiences of life from the downtrodden, to those that struggle and those that are financially well off but not happy.
There is a fourth POV character of sorts, the town of Black Hollow or rather the citizens of Black Hollow. Terrified by a mistake that was made hundreds of years ago, this collective generational fear is captured very well by A.J Vrana. It reminded me of the fear and suspicion that occurs in Twin Peaks. It is the sense of fear, that gave me the Lovecraftian vibes for this as well, the idea of a menace being responsible for whatever has happened.
The power of stories is an overarching theme of this book, A.J Vrana has faith in the power of stories, it is also what makes the characters so much fun and why this beautifully put together narrative builds from the absolutely ordinary to the nightmarish and this is where the fantasy in the book comes to the fore.
The fantasy in the book is light, the setting is an ordinary place but the fantasy takes the reader to strange, absurd and exciting places. The characters will traverse realties and dreamscapes to meet horrors, spirits and and mythological nightmares. The sense of dread and the fantastic again reminded of Lovecraft. This overarching feel of a menace that is not of this world is also what makes the book exciting to read, the fantasy in the book is dangerous.
The fantasy is not excessive, this is why in my initial reaction I called it a refreshing read because it takes the everyday and the fantasy comes in. This was however an excellent read which slowly draws the characters, and the reader, in to a generational mistake its consequences and their actions. This has been a wonderful read for me, I loved the setting, the characters and the light fantasy, drawing the reader in to a terrifying story and as the fantasy tightens, so does the author draw the reader in to the world of nightmares.
A.J Vrana, I salute you for writing one fantastic book and wish it every success when it publishes on the 28th of July.
There is also one fantastic competition running. In the prize pool is a poster of choice with art inspired by Hollow Gods, how cool would that look up on your wall? Enter via this link, it’s international and there is one winner. Good luck!
About A.J. Vrana
A. J. Vrana is a Serbian-Canadian academic and writer from Toronto, Canada. She lives with her two rescue cats, Moonstone and Peanut Butter, who nest in her window-side bookshelf and cast judgmental stares at nearby pigeons. Her doctoral research examines the supernatural in modern Japanese and former-Yugoslavian literature and its relationship to violence. When not toiling away at caffeine-fueled, scholarly pursuits, she enjoys jewelry-making, cupcakes, and concocting dark tales to unleash upon the world.
Links to connect with A.J further
Thank you for stopping by my blog, I hope my review of this book has inspired you to pick up a copy. All that remains is for me to to wish you westu hal.