Cover Image: The Hollow Gods

The Hollow Gods

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Member Reviews

This seems like a really interesting premise, but I had a hard time connecting with the writing style. I just don’t think this was a match for me.
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I felt that this book was a truly fascinating story of folklore and mythology.  The book being told from so many perspectives made it all the more consuming. I was drawn into this world of dreams and reincarnation and had a hard time coming up for air. I found the war between two gods unfair to the people because they were caught up in something they could not comprehend nor would they believe. The ending did leave me with questions that were unanswered but that might be my own curiosity rather than the author’s way of writing.
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I enjoyed Miya and Kais banter and a decent amount of the atmosphere in The Hollow Gods. The plot was a little too loose and confusing for my liking. I honestly don’t even know why Mason had a POV at all?

The begging was a little slow but it picked up towards the end and I’m interested to see what happens in the next one. I do hope there will be less of the dream scenes though.
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The concept and the characters were interesting, but the prose left a lot to be desired. 

I struggled with the pacing. In my opinion the first 200 pages were exposition, and the the rest of the narrative was rushed to the point it all blurred together. I really wish the POV characters interacted more earlier in the narrative because at least then we would know how they relate to each other.

The multiple POV was a good choice since I don’t feel any of them were strong enough to hold the narrative on their own. However, there were moments where the internalizes slipped into the mind of a character that was not the narrator, which took me out of the narrative.

Overall the book felt like an early draft rather than a book in its final form.
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4 1/2 Stars
“Don’t lose your way, she heard the wind hiss an ominous
Spell, or there’ll be hell to pay.” A.J. Vrana, The Hollow Gods

A.J. Vrana’s The Hollow Gods is a perfect blend of fantasy and horror, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The two genres were so creatively interwoven, the prose flowed naturally. As an impressive debut novel, The Hollow Gods is a unique and well-crafted story. It follows 3 main protagonists, Miya Delathorne , Kai Donovan, and Dr. Mason Evans and the events that unfold in the town of Black Hollow. From the start, you get a very creepy vibe from the town. There was something a little “Stepford Wives” about it and at first, I just could not place what was off about this seemingly quaint little town. It was almost too perfect, but there was an underlying darkness. Miya has lived there her whole life, Kai is a mysterious, angry young man, and Mason travels to Black Hollow for a reprieve from work, thinking it will be the perfect get away. The town is surrounded by woods, a place few will venture into. Unfortunately, every so often, young women venture in, come out dazed and confused a week later, only to be murdered not long after. Black Hollow is in fact a dangerous town with dangerous people.
A small town surrounded by dark woods-a recipe for horrific legends to be born. Here in Black Hollow is the Dreamwalker and her wolf. Naturally, any young woman who goes missing must have been possessed by the Dreamwalker. Through various turns of events, Miya, Kai, and Mason’s lives will become intertwined. Miya has no fear of the forest, it has called to her since she was a child. Kai is continually angry and dangerous, and he meets Miya at the edge of the forest in an old playground she frequents to find peace. She has no fear of him, and knows the dark secret he harbors. Mason is drawn in by the mystery of the missing young women, their untimely deaths afterwards, and the legend of the Dreamwalker. The realm of dreams comes alive when Miya and Mason sleep. They enter a world and are shown events that seem familiar and frightening all at once. The story is told in each chapter from the perspective of the 3 characters. It made it interesting to see the events unfold as each of them see it. The switch in perspective is never confusing and, in fact, I liked how I was able to see how each character perceived the events. In this impressive debut novel, AJ Vrana has given the reader a page turning mixture of fantasy and horror. I highly recommend The Hollow Gods. 
The Characters
Miya is a strong female protagonist. She is fearless, curious, but at the same time frightened of what could be her destiny in the history of Black Hollow. When presented with obstacles, she confronts them head on. Miya is not afraid of Kai, the woods, nor the legend of the Dreamwalker. At first, her dreams do frighten her. However, the more she learns and is shown in the realm of dreams, she begins to understand the underlying dangers in Black Hollow.
Kai is at first very mysterious, dangerous and angry. He is the bad boy we all love, but avoids the trope given his secret. I will not delve into that as it would bring up spoilers. I will note that Miya and Kai are drawn together in a way that involves the long history of Black Hollow and the horror of its past. 
Mason Evans, given is scientific background, begins to investigate the legend of the Dreamwalker. While he comes to Black Hollow for rest, he is drawn into what is strange town hiding horrific secrets. As this unravels, Mason is inexorably drawn to Miya and Kai as the three try to untangle the web of what is happening. Mason rounds out three characters. We have the fearless Miya, the dangerous Kai, and Mason, the rational thinker who tries to bring order to the entire situation.

Pacing and Prose
The pacing of this book was very well done. The unraveling of the darkness shrouding Black Hollow is never rushed, nor does it lag. There were no times I felt the prose was mere filler and did not advance the story. I thought the perspective of the chapters of from each character was absorbing. Although the events are shown through each of them, it is not repetitive due to their view of what is happening. This was a strong point in the telling of the story.
The pacing was excellent. The book starts out right away with finding a young woman who has wandered into the woods, comes out, and is found by Miya. From there, the characters tell the story, are drawn to the realm of dreams, and begin to understand just how dangerous Black Hollow can be. The story keeps the reader on edge, and I feel that is mainly due to the different perspectives of Miya, Kai, and Mason. All of them equally advance to plot and are equally important. Nothing is wasted on empty prose that is “filler” for the story.

Overall Thoughts
The Hollow Gods is an excellent debut novel by A.J. Vrana. The incorporation of fantasy and horror was a perfect mix of the two genres, creating a page turning story of Black Hollow. The horror of the town and its people was well done as it was contrasted with a seemingly idyllic “perfect” small town. The realm of the Dreamwalker was both elements, and as the story unfolded, the reader was drawn in and ultimately finds the truth. Miya, Kai and Mason were well-developed characters, and completed each other with their personality traits. This allowed for the story to move forward at an even pace and reveal the secrets. Overall, this was a very enjoyable read and I would highly recommend it to fans of fantasy, horror and mystery as well.
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I usually don't tend to gravitate towards things in the paranormal/supernatural genre, but I'm glad I picked this up because it was such a fun ride despite its slow start. 

The story takes place in Black Hollow, BC, where occasionally a girl goes missing in the woods. When she is returned, someone close to her goes mad and kilsl them, supposedly because of the Dreamwalker, a local legend of a girl who was cast out of the village and is seeking revenge. We follow Miya, Kai, and Mason who are all living at the fringes of society in their own ways as they work to solve the mystery of the Dreamwalker and these missing girls.

I thought the characters were fantastic. Miya, Kai, and Mason all felt really distinct and unique and even recurring side characters such as Annabelle and Ama, had a lot of depth to them. I also loved the atmosphere Vrana built in this story. It had an almost dreamlike quality to it where as the story progressed you sank deeper and deeper. The inclusion of the legends and use of reincarnation/cycles repeating really added to that in my opinion, and I loved the way the author incorporated that trope.
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Smalltown folklore, interwoven memory, and an inheritance of violence blend together in this novel by A. J. Vrana.

“The Hollow Gods” follows three primary characters: Miya, the restless townie who can’t seem to meet her potential; Kai, the troubled loner who carries lifetimes of baggage; and Mason, the emotional vulnerable out-of-towner who is searching for something he cannot quite define. We find all of them in the small town of Black Hollow, where legends of an angry spirit and her familiars haunt the community, supposedly disappearing young women, who, when they do return to town, often meet violent deaths shortly thereafter. As town legends collapse on themselves our three protagonists struggle to make sense of what is happening to them, and to the town, fighting all sorts of internal and external forces to discover something resembling truth.

There is a lot I can say about this novel. I will start with what I enjoyed. The central story is really enjoyable, taking bits and pieces of different types of folklore and combining them in an enjoyable way. The chapters switch perspective between the three protagonists, which always the story to move forward quickly and time jumps to happen naturally, and none of the timeline feels rushed or haphazard. In addition, the tone of the writing changes with each of the three characters, reflecting the difference in their natures not just in the depictions of their actions but also in the omniscient/narrative prose that makes up their sections, and this was a nice way of keeping the reader sunk into the world and the ways the diverse protagonists engage it. Additionally, the book reads really quickly. It has more than 50 chapters but they are all short, so there is always forward momentum, and for the most part each is well-crafted enough to encourage a compulsion to move forward to see what happens. Although the end itself isn’t wildly unpredictable, especially to anyone who enjoys mystery and folk-horror genres, it wasn’t the easiest or most boring resolution. It worked to complicate what we know about stories, relationships, and time, and overall was a satisfying conclusion to the story, even though it left a lot of things unanswered.

So, I enjoyed the story itself, the structure, and the primary characters. But I have to say, the writing seemed very forced. Every sentence was filled with adjectives, adverbs, similes, and metaphors, to the point where whenever a new character was introduced you could guarantee there would be at least two adjectives describing their hair. There are a few stray secondary characters that fulfill specific plot functions and feel like generic archetypes in doing so, granted all of their physical attributes were well-described, but aside from our three protagonists there was a lot left unexplained or understated, about he town and the people in it, and given the story I really feel like the town itself could have become a more central character and that would have greatly served the story, to make it more robust and satisfying.  Some of it just felt clunky, like it was working so hard to make a brilliant, multi-colored mural that it forget the beauty of the blank space, of editing and reserving. If you read this sentence “Miya considered whether her marbles had rolled away as she leapt over the canyon of logic and expected to land safely on the other side. But she did.” and don’t wonder whether maybe there could have been a more light-handed approach then you will love this novel. If, instead, you read that and shook your head a little, then it might be a little difficult for you to get lost in this novel. There is just an abundance of excessively descriptive language that just really felt like it was trying too hard. It wasn’t enough to turn me off from the novel, but I would be hesitant to recommend it to others without knowing their tolerance of this kind of heavy-handed language. This is the first in a duology, and although it ends in a comfortable way that doesn’t require you to read the second to answer some burning question, I will still seek out the second novel, but it isn’t something I am seeking out with any urgency.

:::Note: I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review:::
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<i>"Time to lose your way," she thrilled. "The Hollow's still got hell to pay."</i>

The Hollow Gods is a modern day, Sleepy Hollow-esque mystery about a small village north of Vancouver where boundry between fact and fable is blurred and young girls are being lured to the woods where an omnious figure known as the Dreamwalker possess them. The girls end up missing, and when they return they usually end up dead.

Stories about the Dreamwalker has been told by the residents of Black Hollow over centuries, and the reader is always left to question whether the supernatural is really to blame for what's happening, or if it's the residents of Black Hollow themselves who are to blame. We're kept in suspense as every character we meet seem to be hiding dark secrets of their own.

Through the story we follow three different perspectives: the mysterious man Kai, the university student Miya and the  oncologist Mason whos all paths collide as they search for the truth about the goings-ons in the village of Black Hollow. Miyas POV was my personal favourite. Her journey through this book and learning about her connection to the Dreamwalker was everything I could crave in a good mystery novel. I could not put this book down!

The book has a very dark and sinister atmosphere, and while there is some romance in this book, the story focus more on other themes like the characters internal struggles and anxieties. There is also a lot of focus on world building that take root in the myth around the Dreamwalker and Black Hollow along with the dark and eerie woods that surround the village. 

If you're a fan of dark fairytales the likes of the Brothers Grimm, the kind of books that are made to be read cuddled up under a blanket in front of the fireplace on a chill, fall night... then this is the book for you! I will definitely be picking up the sequel.

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC.
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The Hollow Gods by A. J. Vrana
The Hollow Gods is a modern horror fantasy set in the town of Black Hollow. The place has secrets, dark secrets, secrets it would prefer to keep buried.
For aeons, the residents of Black Hollow have foretold the return of the Dreamwalker—an ominous figure from local folklore said to take young women into the woods and possess them. Is it fact, or is it fiction? Whatever, occasionally, women do go missing. And when they return, they almost always end up dead.
Three unlikely figures converge to confront the evil and uncover the truth.
Mason, an Oncologist. Miya, a university student and Kai, who thinks he may have already seen the Dreamwalkers handy work.
The Hollow Gods is a contemporary horror-fantasy fiction novel aimed at young adults. I am saying young adult is that most of the protagonists are in their early twenties, and I personally had a problem associating with that. 
Saying that the writing was excellent, and the story was first-rate. The novel flowed freely, without let-up. The tension mounted as the book went on, and it showed in the way the characters responded.
You could almost feel the stress, anxiety and tension within the main protagonists.
The book has many twists and turns, which keeps the reader guessing. There are passages in the book, which you may want to re-read to get your head around before moving on. They were that weird.
I usually love folklore tales, but for me, there was just too much going on. At several points during reading the book, I did get the impression that the author was stretching the narrative out a little to try and make it more entertaining for the younger age bracket. Hence I kept finding myself skipping paragraphs.
The Hollow Gods is quite an interesting tale, and I am sure it will have many fans. For me, though, it just missed the mark.
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Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Wow. This was good. So very good and in an interesting and complex way. Something I wasn't expecting but I'm so glad that I read this.

The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana follows three different characters, Miya, Kai, and Mason, through their journey navigating the legends and secrets surrounding the town of Black Hollow and the Dreamwalker. Black Hollow is a town in the modern world that can't seem to escape the fears of the past. The inhabitants firmly believe in the legend of the Dreamwalker that steals girls away into the woods. 

Miya, Kai, and Mason are not perfect. They're struggling with fear, anxiety, anger, and so many more emotions that are relatable to what we all experience. Miya, is a university student, struggling to find purpose. Kai, wakes up next to the body of one of the missing girls. Mason, an oncologist, travels to Black Hollow to escape his decisions and the grief of losing a patient. Three different characters that seemingly have no connection find their lives inextricably entangled in the myths of Black Hollow.

I really enjoyed reading Miya and Kai's perspectives but Mason wasn't my favorite character. I actually wasn't able to appreciate his character until towards the end when you see his growth and story development.

I still have a few questions after finishing this but I'm hoping the next book will clear that up.

This was really well written and well developed. There were so many parts and interesting details to this story that could have easily led to it being messy but the author did a wonderful job of taking those details and weaving it all together. Superb! 

My rating: 4.5/5 out of 5 stars (I can't decide between 4.5 and 5)
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The Hollow Gods is an eerie blend of folklore, fantasy, fable and horror twisted into one dazzling novel.
From wolves to ravens to humans that are themselves like wounded animals in their own ways, the book follows 3 main characters with intrigue, drama, mystery and humanity.
Each of the main characters, despite the supernatural elements that hang over their heads, are incredibly human. Each full of fear, doubt, anxiety, all of them imperfect and searching for something. Vrana succeeds at making these characters 3D and relatable. Whether you love or hate them, you’ll find yourself affected by them and their journey.
Vrana triumphantly creates a town of legend and terror so realistic I found myself wanting to google it to see if she based it on something real.
There were moments in this book and it’s misguided townsfolk that we’re reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery; a curse so old that no one questions the logic or the reality of it all, blindly and fearfully feeding into it, keeping the legend alive.
There’s so much I’d love to delve deeper into, but for fear of spoiling it I won’t go too deep. But I ask if you, when you get to the end of the book, sit with it for a spell, and let the many layers that Vrana crafted soak in, as I did.
I will leave you with this last thought: time is not linear.

For a debut novel, A.J. Vrana hits this one out of the park, and I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us in the future. 

Thank you to Parliament House Press and AJ Vrana for an ARC of this novel
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The Hollow Gods - AJ Vrana
I’m very conflicted on this review. My actual star rating lands somewhere between a 2.75 and a 3. I’m conflicted because while I liked the plot of this story, I didn’t connect as much with the writing as I would have liked.
What I didn’t like:
-The characters were in their early 20s so I was hoping for a more adult book. Instead, this book read very much like a YA. I feel like if I had gone into the book knowing that it was a YA I would’ve had better expectations. Although, it is tagged YA on Goodreads so this isn’t really any fault of the book.
-The characters read so much like Twilight. Like straight down to the constant lamb and lion metaphors. I think if the characters had been in high school this wouldn’t have bothered me as much.
-Lastly, this story centers around a town with an urban legend that still affects them in modern times. GIVE ME MORE OF THAT. I wish it had been explored and the story revealed had been a little bit more scary.
What I did like:
-This was a fast read and the end had me not wanting to put the book down.
-I love a crazy small town. That’s a trope I’ll never get tired of.
-I also love urban legends unique to a small town. This urban legend was unique too and not something I had read before.
-While I saw the plot twist coming, I appreciate it.
Overall, if you’re looking for a fast paced, YA read with slightly older characters, this might be a book worth checking out for you!
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Loved the multiple points of view, the rich mythology, and the colourful characters. Can't wait to dive into the second book!
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There is so much to love about this book. Dreams, wolf shape shifters, folklore, ravens, murder. 

This is a romance about souls doomed to repeat a cycle until they can complete it. 

The narrative is divided between a young woman, Miya, a shape shifter, Kai, and a Doctor, Mason. I think the different narrative voices between each character’s chapters would have worked better if they’d been written in first person. When I read them as first person, my enjoyment of the book increased dramatically. Unfortunately, as written in third person, I found it hard to connect with the characters and the pacing slow. 

I received a free copy from Netgalley and I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.
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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.

First, I need to say how much I loved the descriptions in this novel. The forest and characters gave me haunting images in my mind. This is told from multiple character’s POV’s and it was written perfectly. I loved how their stories all ended up intertwining in the end. I’m excited to read the next book in this series. A 5 star recommended fantasy read! Thank you Netgallery for this arc!
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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Well, where do I begin? It took me a little while to get into this book but once I did I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed the fact that you understand the characters and they're given back stories rather than just thrown into the book. I enjoy fantasy books but this one was taken to a whole new level with the folklore background. There are some parts that are a bit creepy but totally worth it. I can’t wait to read more by this author. Visit Black Hollow if you dare to find the willow.
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The cover is beautiful and thats what caught my attention first. The story is well written and drew me in right away. Definitely a good read and very enjoyable.
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Why is it always the books I just keep putting off that are so freaking good!! 

I do not know what I was expecting.....but it wasn't this, but I am not mad. This book kept me so interested from the very beginning. 

Giving us three POV's

Mason- a doctor who is running away from choices that led to the death of one of his patients. That brings him to the town of Black Hollow where he stumbles into the towns superstition and after a man is hit by a bus starts to think that maybe the superstitions have some truth to them. 

Miya- A college girl in Black Hollow who's slipping into depression because after wanting to be a journalist finds out that the path isn't what she was hoping and loses all will to even try in school, but one day a wolf on the verge of death comes into her life and with one piece of jerky at a time she gains his trust

Kai- (my faves 🥰) is cursed with a monster inside him. Who makes Kai think he is the reason for the Murdered girls in Black Hollow when he wakes up next to their dead bodies with no knowledge to how they ended up that way. 
He also is vulgar and I love it ♥️♥️

This book does give me mad The Raven Cycle vibes but it's definitely its own book....with a lot more talk of penis.
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If I’m being honest, the beautiful cover is what initially drew me to this book. The synopsis also sounded interesting, and I was hoping to love it so I could buy a finished copy for my shelves. Unfortunately, I found the writing juvenile and the plot boring, I decided to DNF the book and not leave this review. Fast forward many months later, and I see the cover for the sequel. I really want to love this series. I tried the audiobook this time, but it still didn’t work for me. I’m officially DNFing at 45%.
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I received a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. 

The Hollow Gods
By: A. J. Vrana 

I wanted to like The Hollow Gods, but that just didn't happen. The story was intriguing at first, but I got bored with all the dream sequences (I'm not a fan of in the first place). The romantic aspect was kind of ridiculous instalove and totally unnecessary. I felt like this story was a bit all over the place with an odd and abrupt conclusion. Maybe I'm not the right audience for this one?
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