The Hollow Gods

The Chaos Cycle Book 1

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Pub Date 28 Jul 2020 | Archive Date 23 Jul 2021
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Description

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?

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...


Advance Praise

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.


"Vrana's dark, folklore-infused debut, the first of a duology, introduces readers to the residents of Black Hollow, who hold their daughters close and their twisted secrets closer...Vrana crafts unique local mythology and draws from existing lore to create a sense of creeping dread. Vrana is off to a strong start with this solid, suspenseful tale. " – Publisher’s Weekly 

"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. " – Katya de Becerra, author of OASIS and WHAT THE WOODS KEEP 

"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…The fragmented, surgically precise narrative builds from the utterly, painfully ordinary to the absurd and fantastic. " – Three Crows Magazine 

"Grounded in secrets, myth, fantasy, and alternate reality, Vrana's debut installment in The Chaos Cycle series is a fast-paced, deeply intriguing urban fantasy. Prepped with intriguing details, the narrative is both engrossing and vivid, the writing assured, and the pacing perfect. Exploring varied themes of grief, depression, trauma, and collective guilt, Vrana hooks the reader from the very start, leaving them anxious for the next installment. "– The Prairies Book Review

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...


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Featured Reviews

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, <b>THE HOLLOW GODS</b>, 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. <i>The Hollow Gods</i> 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.

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This review can be found on my Goodreads as well! 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 second 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 for those who do not know me. I do not read magical realism enough to state that this is what this book is categorized as but I deeply believe if you like magical realism and folklore that 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. 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 though 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

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A very engaging and enjoyable read. The main characters are richly developed. It’s particularly important to have a nuanced narrative that weaves group psychopathology with myth.

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"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. It's as if the characters will often awake from a dream. Some of it is firmly rooted in this reality, but much is in dreams, in mystery, in legend. 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.

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February was a bad month for me with books. Usually, I'm all 4-5 star reads but I got mostly 3 stars and maybe one 4. THEEEEEEN, I started an arc of HOLLOW GODS and I knew I finally had my five star read. THE HOLLOW GODS is a book I think should be given out into the book community and praised. Granted, I did have high expectations because I've been drooling over the synopsis forever. I enjoy anything comped to The Raven Boys, but I was excited to see where the author would take me. THE HOLLOW GODS is what I expected. Dark, violent, heart wrenching, funny, and unique. We have three very complex characters-Mason, Kai and Miya-a tragic town's history and themes such as finding yourself after grief and disappointment. It's the real deep emotions that made this book a five star read for me. In essence, it gave me a strong Stephen King vibe, most recently the character of Ralph Anderson in THE OUTSIDER where he has to figure out this mystery all while dealing with the death of his own child. It's that realness that drew me in and made me fall for these characters. Vrana did great drawing out these emotions and gave us protagonists to root for. I realize this type of book isn't going to be for everyone for its graphic nature in some scenes and time leaps and big words that people don't understand that Kindle has a dictionary function for, but this is the sort of unbelievably out of the norm books I look for when I'm trying to get out my YA blackhole. In closing, this book was everything I hoped it would. The writing is something to envy (TEACH ME YOUR WAYS) I am eager to get my grubby hands on the next installment. Read if you want a dark, atmospheric read reminiscent of Stephen King.

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I was searching for something a little different when I found ‘The Hollow Gods’, and I certainly got what I was looking for. I fell in love with the cover at first sight, and the title intrigued me as did the summary. I have a soft spot for folklore at the best of time, and this seemed like an interesting twist on that idea, and it was. It took me a few chapters to get into the book, but once I did, I was hooked. While folklore and the role it plays within a community is central to the story, it weaves through several genres, and I would find it hard to classify it under a singular genre, which I think is a massive part of its appeal.     The story itself is split between three very different narrators, all following their own paths through the story, and it felt very much to me that I was with them on those paths, discovering new secrets and answers, alongside them. The. Each character was well developed in their own right, as well as through their connections with one another, and there were aspects of what they were struggling with or searching for that you can’t fail to identify with. The relationships between them, the folklore and the rest of the town were intricate, and there was an ambiguity to it all. That, rather than leaving you lost or drifting away from the story, kept you hooked and chasing the answers.    There were a couple of places where the language choices jolted me out of the flow, but it only happened a couple of times and was more a personal tic than anything, and for the most part, I found the language beautifully reflective of the story. It felt like a folktale, in terms of language but also in the storytelling method, but one that the reader is experiencing for themselves.     My favourite part of the book is how it explores folklore and how it is experienced – as a story, a dream, a part of history – and how stories can become something far more if people believe in them strongly enough. ‘Stories aren’t told to convey the facts. They’re told the convey the truth’ – is something very real, and very present in our lives, and here it is explored and addressed in a way that is not only relevant, but which is accessible, and I loved it.    I would highly recommend this book for anyone with interest in folklore, magical realism, and a dark touch of horror. An absolutely stunning debut from this author. I have pre-ordered my own copy of the book, and I am very much looking forward to the second book in ‘The Chaos Cycle’.

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I received The Hollow Gods from Netgalley for an honest review. Based in current day North America, it follows Kai, Miya, and Mason as they uncover and unravel the mythology of the Dreamwalker and the cycle of missing girls. The main characters are introduced early on and motivations are made clear from the start though as the weaving of the characters and story progresses these motivations become more unclear and tangled. A lot of good world building to support the mythology that is being developed as this is the first of a duology, but by no means does this feel unfinished an waiting for the second book. A play on some of the usual fantasy/horror tropes that has worked well. Wolves, ravens, dream states, all wind together and build to a great conclusion. Well-paced and gripping for most of the book, it took me a day and a half to finish.

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The Hollow Gods was an unexpected treat. It’s loosely categorised as fantasy but what it really does is dissolve the boundaries between fairy tales, nightmares and folk horror. It’s incredibly successful at making you doubt the character’s ability to perceive reality whilst still keeping you engaged and rooting for them. Best of all, there’s a healthy dose of spookiness that has you questioning your own understanding of what’s happening. A gem of a book. I can’t wait for the next one.

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There is something truly haunting about dark, creepy woods surrounding a small town. They are drawn in mystery, curiosity, and twisted tales of what lurks in the shadows. Only the brave venture into the dark, and if they’re lucky enough to find their way out, they are never the same. For the people of Black Hollow, this is their reality. To those just passing through, it would appear to be a normal, small Canadian town. They would not hear the whispers about the young girls found dead or know the folklore that has haunted the town for centuries. What lurks in the dark of Black Hollow is the Dreamwalker and her wolf. The figure is said to lure young women into the woods and possess them. And history is repeating itself. The Dreamwalker has returned, girls are going missing, and the town grows more and more fearful of what lies ahead. The story has three intertwining narrators: Miya, a struggling student who may be the Dreamwalkers next victim, Kai, a young man with his own demons and bloody instincts, and Mason, an Oncologist who escaped to the town for some peace, and instead found himself obsessed with solving the town’s mysteries. The character’s lives begin to intertwine as they overcome their own traumas, their own guilt, and you can’t help but feel for them. There is a lot to unpack in The Hollow Ones, and while at times it can feel like maybe there is too woven into the plot, it’s fast-paced, charming, and touching. Much like any good folklore, it’s truths are rooted in reality or day-to-day themes. They are not always easy to look at, but when you throw magic over it, its easier to manage. And Vrana’s writing is superb and humorous. The way she has weaved in ghosts, folklore, magic, and dreams into one story is pure talent. The Hollow Gods is a striking debut about guilt, grief, and how the past sometimes finds a way to come back to haunt us. The roots of this story will be familiar to those who enjoy reading about fairytales and folklore, but Vrana has added her own touch to the genre that allows this novel to hold it’s own against the greats.

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"F*ck this shit." "F*ck everything." "And f*ck that squirrel in particular." Normally I don't include much cussing in my reviews, 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.

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This dark horror novel drew me in from the start with its spooky atmosphere, compelling characters and well-written story. The pacing was strong as three main characters are drawn into a wild mix of supernatural events, quirky small-town folk with secrets to hide, and personal demons that conspire to end them all. Some great twists and characters that are nuanced and tough to figure out who is good and bad- some may be both! Recommended.

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I love. That is all. :) Ok but seriouslY? This was so good! It was an amazing read. I was drawn in by the summary alone, but I am totally on board to find out what happens in the next book! It was serious, funny, spooky, and yet also knew when to be lighthearted. I'm so glad this book held up to my expectations!

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Absolutely loved this book. The storyline had me gripped from the first sentence. I think the characters were really well written and I thought the ending was good.

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The author delivers a rapid-paced, suspenseful, gripping, well-written and perfectly executed fictional fantasy/ thrilling mystery. Overall tells an interesting narrative with a complex main character and interesting surrounding characters. Most of the characters featured in the narrative are well fleshed out and have their own personality rather than just being the side-kick or bad guy. I can highly recommend this book and I will be waiting anxiously for the next book in this series!

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Following the story of three different characters. A man escaping from his past to a superstitious town, where a girl fights her future with the superstition and a boy belonging to it. This book had all the elements I needed to keep the pages turning. There was of cause spiritual superstition, people finding themselves, a wolf man with a little bit of love too. I loved the setting of the story which had a real eerie feeling to it but made me want to be in it and explore. I also felt empathy for the characters and wanted to help them on there journey and the need to find out what was going to be the next thing along that journey. The ending also rounded the story off although there is the question as to what will happen next. I thought this book was very well written and definitely had me captivated the whole way through. Definitely a 5 star.

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Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. Wow! I really enjoyed this one and can't wait for the next book. I hope it's a continuous series.

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Fantastic read, it was really good to have a fantasy novel that tells a completely different story. I will definitely be suggesting this for future reads

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"This town's legends, its mysteries, and its secrets - they make you feel alive, don't they?" The Hollow Gods is different than all the books I've read lately. It's rich with folklore and veiled character's analysis that make you think you're reading a story about a demonic woman terrorizing an entire town, when in reality you're learning your way into the side effects of grief, loss, anxiety, identity crisis, mass hysteria and . 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 scene are also incredibly sexy and their banter is top notch, so that's a plus. And of course, how could you resist a guy who compares your eyes to a puddle of shit? So 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. 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 damanged girls, broody-soft wolf-boys, and supernatural scary stories that find their roots in super cool folkloric tales. Also, one thing is absolutely sure: if you're faint of heart, Black Hollow is definitely not the place for you, but it's 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.

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The Hollow Gods is an incredibly in depth story that spans centuries, families, dreams and the waking world. If you want it, Vrana delivers in this title that defies genres and takes you on one wild ride. This is a book I straight up devoured. The first probably 40% of the book follows three different narratives giving each chapter to a certain point of view. As the book progresses we see these characters story lines start to tie into each other and oh what a tangled web they weave! You have Miya, who is in a rut as far as studies go and can’t figure out what path she wants to take in life. With odd occurrences happening both too and around her she’s beginning to loose touch with whats real. Then there is Kai. A smart-mouthed, amnesiac who can’t figure out what’s going on with his blackouts, only that he has a sinking feeling they aren’t because of anything good. (If you’ve ever read Kadry’s Sandman Slim series he reads like a young Stark. I loved Kai) Lastly you have Mason, an oncology doctor that feels like he’s failing at everything until a chance encounter with a patient that heals miraculously from a serious accident draws him into a dark land meant for scary stories and night time tales. All of this revolves around Black Hollow. A town steeped heavily in folklore. Of a dream-walker and her wolves that take young women, warping time and returning their shells. The townspeople fear it, try to pretend it isn’t real. But the grip its history has on everything it touches in their little town speaks to something much darker. There is so much going on in this story but I never once felt like it didn’t have room to breath. The dialogue was a lot of fun, especially later on in the book once everyone starts coming together and we get to see some side characters come into play. It could veer into cliche here and there. Most of my issue lay in the chapters where we were bouncing back and forth in the POV. The time line could get a little wonky but it was tolerable. Regardless, still a page turner that I could not put down. *E-Arc kindly provided by BooksGoSocial via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own

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HOOKED! From the first chapter I was hooked! Such a relatable character that makes you want to follow them into the depths of the unknown! Such a wonderful world to get lost in with all of the mythology and twist and turns! It left me wanting more!!!!

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"The Hollow Gods" ist der Auftakt einer Dilogie, der spannender nicht hätte sein können. Durch das atemberaubende Cover bin ich überhaupt erst auf das Buch aufmerksam geworden und wurde von Anfang bis Ende in den Bann gezogen. Wer spannenden und vor allem düstere Urban/Dark Fantasy mag, ist bei diesem Buch definitiv an der richtigen Adresse. Durch den flüssigen Schreibstil lässt sich die Geschichte sehr schnell lesen und da der Spannungsbogen konstant auf einem unglaublich hohen Level ist, möchte man das Buch auch gar nicht mehr aus der Hand legen, bis man am Ende angekommen ist. Besonders hervorzuheben ist, dass die Charaktere hier keineswegs perfekt sind. Bei jedem einzelnen von ihnen handelt es sich um Randmitglieder der Gesellschaft, die von ganz oben ganz tief gefallen sind und nun zu den Außenseitern gehören. Doch sie lassen sich nicht unterkriegen. Über die Handlung möchte ich an dieser Stelle gar nichts verraten. Der Klappentext gibt genügend Informationen und die Geschichte ist einfach zu gelungen, um hier gegebenenfalls zu spoilern. Aber "The Hollow Gods" ist eine absolute Leseempfelung und ich bin gespannt auf den zweiten Band!

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The Hollow Gods is a fantasy blend of fairytales and dark lore. If you prefer your fantasy on the darker side, I would definitely recommend this story. I also think it is a great first half to a duology. Between the suspense of a dark and secret forest and the conspiracy of girls gone missing, it truly is a stunning story.

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Thank you, NetGalley for allowing me to read a copy of this book. The Hollow Gods by A. J. Vrana did not disappoint at all. I finished this book in a day and it was hard to leave the book because it has everything that I love to read and write in a book: curses, superstitious people, flawed characters that at least try (finally someone gets anxiety attacks because I could relate to Miya a lot in this book), wolves that might be both (wo)man and wolf, dreamscapes, and fables wrapped around mythology. The world-building is incredible and I was loathed to leave it. The characters had me wanting to hug them and protect them from the nasty villagers who let their own fears bring new life into the fables. Also, anything with reincarnation that has characters being other characters in a previous life will have me on my knees begging for more and I salute the author for being able to pull it off. If you want to read more of my crazy fangirl talk, you can check out my full review at https://bookgirlreviewsbooks.blogspot.com/ All I will say is that Kai can be my Big Bad Wolf anytime he wants to be;) (but I will bow out graciously because of Miya) If I could give it 500 out of 5 stars I would, but since the system doesn't go that high... 5 out of 5 stars times 100;)

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The Hollow Gods by AJ Vrana is a beautiful combination of fantasy, horror, and fairy tale. This is a story of Miya, Kai, and Mason. These characters are all telling their story in the Canadian village of Black Hollow. Here the villagers speak of a legend involving the Dreamwalker and her wolves. This legend is in reality an integral part of the villages history and culture. But is the legend true? Is there a Dreamwalker stalking Black Hollow luring young women into the forest at night or is this just a fable? Vrana creates a beautifully rich world with characters that the reader truly cares about. I love a good fairy tale and the concept of an entire village living as if they are real life characters in a fairy tale in absolutely intriguing.

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I feel good that I was able to read this book before it was published. I’ve been sitting here trying to put into words how I liked and disliked this book.This is a hard one for me to talk about which I didn’t think would happen. I never have problems talking about books that I have read. So, I’m not sure why I am having such problems. Don’t get me wrong I did like the book overall. I just had some things in there that I didn’t like. One thing I didn’t like was it didn’t hold my interest until near the end of the book. I could have taken it or left it and it didn’t bother me that I wasn’t reading it. Once I got to the “good” stuff I was all into it and read the rest of the book in like 2 hours! What I liked was it was from 3 different people’s perspectives and we got to see the town of Black Horrow differently. We had perspective from Mason, Miya, and Kai. We learn about the town and the legends that surround the town and how it affects the town and each person differently and how they deal with it. It has a great climaxing ending. I just wish it didn’t take so long to get to the climax. Overall I can give this book a 3.5/4. I'm leaning more on the 4 side but there were times that I could get distracted from the book and not read it for a while. This is a great book for those that like to read fantasy and have the real world meet fantasy. Don't bother them that the book moves slowly; this is the book for you. You can find my review on both my BookTube page and my blog.

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Holy moly, closing a book and saying "Wow!!!" has gotta mean nothin' but 5 stars. "There was no forever-after in Black Hollow or anywhere else." Foreshadowing, thrumming spooky piano noise. A Raven with a soul-shuddering name. Wolves and shapeshifting -- or is it all a dream? -- and burning trees (the Burning Bush? What is God really?) and soul-inspecting storylines and mirror lakes and woods and willows and friendships and fighting for life and fur and fang and is it all a psychotic episode? -- oh yeah, and horror. Straight up horror. It's all here. Fighting for innocence, fighting to understand reality, does it really exist? What is reality anyway, what is waking consciousness within it, the deepest question under a sea of questions here. This book bites off a ton. And it succeeds. It's a shamanic ride on a sometimes gruesome train swelling on orchestral waves. How is this a debut novel?! "Seasons changed before Miya's eyes, the cycles moving at a pace befitting the perception of an immortal spirit-one who had witnessed them a thousand times over. By the time she reached the end of the path, the trees were all dead." Chicken skin... "A shrill call drew him back towards the red-soaked earth. A raven crawled, his wing broken and his leg writhing, towards the body of a dead child. The boy was pristine..." Horror right there with the best. I don't typically pick up horror. I was attracted to this book for the shamanic overtones. But horror done right, not for blood's sake but to carry the message and plot in a way that could not be done otherwise, I'm all in. This book is told in third person from three vantage points, not really a multiple POV in my book though some are calling it that. It is not told in first person from several being's eyes; the reader does not feel whipped through various headspace, instead it is a smooth vehicle for the telling. It rotates chapters with a single character as main focus.. The writing is smooth and carries the reader forward on a spellbinding and spell-blinding ride. Fantastic read. Highly recommended. Will be following this author! Thank you NetGalley and publisher for an advanced reader copy, and thank you to the author for stepping out there to gift such word and idea crafting. This is a painting worth stepping into fully. 5 stars. My rating system: My star ratings: 5 stars: Incredible read, cannot get it out of my mind, will read again and again, perhaps has effect on self identity or belief 4 stars: Very enjoyable, no glaring plot or writing issues, added to my idea or knowledge or lore bank, glad to have read 3 stars: Enjoyable on some level but something was missing or in the way - a writing style, plot holes, pacing or emotional connection 2 stars: At some point I was probably screaming at the book and wondering where was the editorial team, or was there a helping team at all 1 star: probably DNF unless I felt obligated, will forget it existed sadly, the idea kernel squandered

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Actual Rating - 3.5 stars, leaning towards the 4. I recieved an ARC from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. I chose to read this book because of an interesting premise, however I didn't think I'd like it, because of the mini-reading-slump it sent me to in about 50 pages in. I'm here to tell you that this book is worth pushing through, and I'm glad that I did. I'll be listing off thinks I dislike and then likes because it makes things easier. -Setting up the character motivations ended up taking a bit too long. The beginning is just... so boring to me. I know it's a double sided coin, because the character motivation will be on my "likes" list. It ended up adding to the story more than I expected it would. To be honest, I did not care for it for the first 35% of it. -I've been thinking about why I fell into the reading slump. I found out after some speculation that it's a mixture of pacing and tone. The book is like really intense. That's usually a good thing, but the problem here is that it is CONSTANTLY intense. It'd help if the pacing slowed down a bit, or if the tone lightened up after the intense scene. I physically had to stop reading to take a breather and actively sought out a lighter read. It's not a good thing because I just stop caring after 1-2 days pass. Then I had to force myself to pick the book up again. It can go on for only for so long. - The metaphors. I'll be honest this is half my fault because I'm probably too stupid to get it. It's just a minor inconvenience , but it's there. Onto the gushing, - The love interest, Kai. It's sad that I have to say this, but Thank God that this book does not romanticize abuse nor the jerks. Kai just had a rough time and needs a hug. He knows his limits, he knows when he's being *actually* rude. What I'm trying to say is, that Kai is the bad boy trope done right. - I'm happy to say that this book did NOT end up featuring the inescapable love triangle. Due to the circumstances in the last 30% of the book, with The First, I was dreading that it would end up in a love triangle. Thankfully [ and I cannot repeat this enough times] it did NOT. Everything beats in cycles -I haven't read much of horror-fantasy. I must say that this is done really well. The way the author has merged the two genres, is beyond praiseworthy. People have always feared the unknown. The have learned to fear everything magical. A great horror is always based on reality; the fears everlasting. This story actually reminded me of the witch hunts of the 1400s. I felt bad for the innocent souls, and I'm terrifies because this type of town mentality still prevails in many parts of the world. The girls of this town were MURDERED because they changed, because they were showing normal teenage behavior. Because they were not still smiling when the pressures we face growing up pushed them down. Stories aren't told to convey the facts. They're told to convey the truth It is very realistic on what is going on these days. So... yeah the Horror part was done expertly, and it was blended in with the fantastic elements perfectly. In conclusion, this book has some flaws, and it has some strengths. I'm glad I read it, and I'm interested in the next book. Read the book if you want to, and thank you if you've read this far into the review. Happy Reading :D

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A solid book with strong prose and relatable characters. I wasn't sure if I would like it, but I'm happy to say I did. Vrana has a knack for characterization and the plot contains enough turns and twists to keep a reader guessing.

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Have you ever read and you didn't want it to end because you loved it so much? This was how this book was for me! It kept my interest from beginning to end. A. J. Vrana was able to create a town that was both creepy yet induring, Black Hollow felt like you were reading about an actual town that had a dark history, which terrorized its citizens by centuries of believing the Dreamwalker legend. When a young girls goes missing and is found wondering out of the woods after being missing for a week, the town is terrified because no one is supposed to come out of the woods alive. Our main character, Miya, is the one who finds the missing girl. Miya frequents the park in which the girl stumbles into. Miya is a girl who have problems on her own and doesn't follow the societal rules that ban her from exploring more about the Dreamwalker's presence in the town. The Dreamwalker mystery intrigues her and she finds herself exploring the woods and frequenting the park where she goes to think. One day, Miya meets a wolf at the park. She feels a sudden pull to the wolf that she's never felt before drawing her even farther into the legend of the town. When she meets Kai, she feels an instant pull towards him as well, something is familiar, which she quickly figures out, making her life change for forever. The mystery that surrounds this book will pull you in and keep you guessing the entire time. To say I loved this book is an understatement!

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I was compelled throughout the whole entire read. I could not put this book down!! I love a nice dark and gritty fantasy and this did it for me. 5 stars!!!

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Miya is a struggling university student. She has been put on probation. Why? She goes to Black Hollow. She doesn’t know that the town has a dark, age-old secret. Black Hollow has been having a girl missing and the community is upset. They are afraid that the Dreamwalker has taken her. Yet when the girl comes back home, the father ends up killing her. Why would a father do that? Miya sees a wolf while swinging on a swing in an old playground. He leaves her and goes into the forest. Miya will meet a boy whose name is Kai. Where did they meet? Will she learn Kai’s secret? What is it? Meanwhile, a doctor named Mason has come to Black Hollows to recover from a patient dying. He learns about the Dreamwalker fable. He becomes infatuated with the story and wants to see if he can find the mysterious Dreamwalker. Who is she? Will Mason find her? What will happen if he does? The novel is a horror novel that includes a dark secret, mystery and fantasy. It is fascinating. I liked the development of the story. I enjoyed watching Miya’s coming to terms with herself and her life. It’s an excellent horror novel.

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I was taken with this story right at the start, the characters, setting and most of the pacing were spot on (there was just a few spots that the story got a little hazy/confusing). I would definitely read more from this author and recommend to fantasy/horror fans.

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In a town where folklore becomes horror, three people are drawn into the ultimate fight against an ancient evil that threatens to repeat a cycle of death. Kai, a young man who continuously wakes up next to previously missing, and now dead girls. Miya, a young student who slowly starts seeing the connection to the supposed Dreamwalker, who's kidnapped girls in the small town of Black Hollow. Mason, an oncologist running from his guilt, who starts to tug at the thread of the town's bleakest fable. I fully, and unabashedly loved this book. I admit, horror themes are difficult for me to read and judge. As it's rare to find something that leave me actually getting chills. Yet, here I am. From the first 10% of the book I was hooked and becoming drawn more into the fable of the Dreamwalker and her wolves. From 30% in I literally couldn't put it down till I finished it. I enjoyed each POV we were introduced to, which is rare for me as there is always one I end up fighting and struggling reading. This book was absolutely chill inducing and brutal when it came to language, it made it feel so alive. Time to lose your way The Hollows still got hell to pay And I can't wait to see what more hell A.J. Vrana has in store for this series.

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The Hollow Gods is an amazing debut novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I was captivated by the magic, the mystery, and the mayhem. What I Loved: ❧ This book drew me in from the beginning. The title, the cover, the blurb. I was not disappointed in the least. I enjoyed it from cover to cover- minus the few things that I will discuss later. ❧ Dr. Mason Evans. I know that I discussed my feelings for him, but it was his character that connected me to the story and allowed me to feel as if I were a part of it. ❧ The entire premise of the book is just so magical. It incorporates so many different elements- mysticism, folklore, psychology. (just to name a few) It also shows you what arrogance, ego, fear, and irrationality can do to people. This is not just a book that you read, put down, and dismiss. (although you totally can) It is a book that can be used as a tool for some serious self-reflection. That is something that I just don't see in fiction these days. I honestly admire the author, <a href="https://thechaoscycle.com/about-me/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A.J. Vrana</a> for giving me a book that I can read for enjoyment as well as reflection. ❧ There were so many moments that I laughed out loud (Like when Kai was tickling Miya and she choked on her own spit. It reminded me of when my husband and I were first dating. He was tickling me in that same manner and a strand of my incredibly long hair somehow went straight down my throat and I almost died.); moments where I cried on the inside, where I was metaphorically biting my nails. There would have been moments that I would have had goosebumps if it weren't for my lack of visual imagination. ("The ailing phantom tilted his head, his features warping monstrously, his eyes and nose melting from his face while his mouth twisted sideways, then upwards into something resembling a smile.") This book made me feel so many different emotions. It was great. What I Didn't Like: ❧ I was so turned off by all of the foul language. Some of it was a bit much. I don't mind cursing in books or in life. It's not that at all. What bothered me was the constant crudeness that Kai displayed. He would say things that were just gross and uncalled for. That paired with my feelings about Kai and Miya as characters were the only things that dropped my rating from five stars to four. To be honest, the only times I felt like Kai wasn't so bad, was when he was in wolf form and silent. ❧ Miya. At times, I felt like I was reading about Bella Swan. I'm not saying that the author copied Bella's character, at all. I mean, there were things that Miya did, that Bella did and I equally wanted to punch them both in the face...I mean, I wanted to shake my head non-violently in dismay at their actions. Like, Bella/Miya don't do this thing because it's dangerous. Miya/Bella: "Don't tell me what to do! I'm a free agent!" *long, grumbly sigh*

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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.

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The Hollow Gods by AJ Vrana is my first ARC read. What drew me to this book is the promise of something dark and sinister lurking between the pages. Since this is the author’s debut novel and I didn’t read others’ reviews before starting this book, I was perfectly prepared to not like it that much. I have no idea what I expected but I definitely did not expect it to be this good! The story was told through the eyes of three narrators: Miya, Kai, and Mason. I am usually wary of multiple POVs because I tend to pick a favorite and lose the connection with the other characters along the way. Fortunately, AJ Vrana was able to establish and maintain a unique voice for each character. Miya, Kai, and Mason noticed and cared about completely different things and it’s those little things that sold the switching POVs to me. Nestled in a rural area, just at the edge of the forest, Black Hollow serves as the border between reality and fantasy, madness and sanity. I loved the idea of centuries-old lore holding the town and its people captive in its razor-sharp talons; and how the townspeople, subsequently, become the very thing they most fear. One of the themes tackled in this story is facing and accepting mortality. I have never lost a loved one but this book made me feel the grief that Mason and Anabelle felt. It also made me wonder if the people who had lost loved ones would resent the existence of immortality if they discovered it was real. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Hollow Gods. However, there are a lot of questions left unanswered, or maybe it’s just me not realizing the answers were already given. I can’t wait to read the next installment and get the answers I desperately need!

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Rich in myth, a wonderful tapestry of solid characters, great storylines and just overall amazing. This is, so far, my book of the year. I'll be writing more about it later on my blog, so will update the blog and this review as I go through it at https://reviewimiss.com Thank you to Netgalley for connecting me with the publisher and giving me the chance to review the book.

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So to be honest this book did not go the way I thought it would. I was expecting a "Little Red Riding Hood" type story but you get so much more in this book. The plot lines were a little hard to follow and I had to go back a few times to get back on the right plot line, but it was not horrible to go back. I normally found something I missed when I went back and that was why it was not making senses. For this story you need to have an open mind about what nature can and will do. You will also find the issue of human mob mentality a cause in this book. It showcases the, sometimes, horrible aspect of human mob mentality. The villagers are a prime example of the bad side of mob mentality, in my opinion. The way they decide to do the things they do and all of it out of sheer terror without taking the time to determine what the actual cause was or is. I am interested to see what the next book in the series is going to be about. The author left enough open to continue the story line yet at the same time closed the important ones to this book. I am curious to find out more back story to the main and secondary characters. I feel their stories need to be known and I hope we find them out.

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The Hollow Gods is a dark dream like story of small town secrets playing out on a grand scale. The world building was excellent, Weaving folk tales with a gritty realism, the multiple points of view of the three main characters was well done and they sat well within the world. The pacing of the plot was good and has mystery and twists that has me eager to read the next book

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I think I was really unsure about how I felt while reading this book. Overall, I loved the idea of it. A small town completely revoked around this fairy tale and believing that the dreamwalker was responsible for all the disappearing girls. This is the kind of stuff I love to read about. Right off the bat the writing was great. I loved reading the chapters from Kai and Miya. I loved their characters and the relationship they were building. I also loved how completely different their points of view were, but then we got to our third main character, Mason. He just didn’t hold my attention as much as the other two. I liked the fact that it was a point of view who didn’t grow up in this town. Mason completely thinks the town folk are a little crazy and odd for believing in such things. It got to the point where I was just wishing Mason's part would go by faster so I could get to Miya and Kai. Overall, it's a great story, I just wished I would have enjoyed Mason's part a little more. Then this probably would have been a five star book for me.

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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.

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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.

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As a girl who grew up daydreaming of monsters in the forest, this novel gripped me from the start. A woman with her heart in the woods, a man wrestling with demons, and other man running from his past. If you like fantasy and intrigue, this book is for you. I will say that I had a hard time getting into this book at the beginning. I am not sure if it is because I was coming off of the high that follows me after every Jennifer Armentrout book I read, or if it was just confusing at first though. The confusion lifts after the first few chapters, though, and the book really comes into its own. The folklore was fascinating. (I do wish the backstory was explained a little more or fleshed out better, but I expect that it will be addressed more in book two, so maybe I’m just impatient.) There are mystical forces at work in this not-so-normal town. Is it faeries, is it a scientific phenomena, or is it perhaps something even larger and more sinister? The answer may not be as clear-cut as you would think. There are 3 main characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed 2/3 of them. The novel is told from their three alternating perspectives, giving this book more depth and making things more uncertain. Sometimes I find changing perspectives to be jumpy or difficult to follow, but A.J Vrana did not fall into this. The switching narratives ends up tying the story more together. Creepy, mysterious, and intriguing, Hollow Gods will leave you wanting the next book in this duology.

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<b>4 stars</b> Not what I expected yet what I expected at the same time. Admittedly, it was a little slow at the beginning but then the pace did get better. However, there were some issues. As there were three main characters, I expected all of them to play an equal role in the plot. But like with another book with three main characters, the female main character ended up being the main and there was an aspect of the "special snowflake" trope which I hated. I'm also very confused as from one POV, it seemed there would be a sequel and from another, it seemed to be a closed ending?

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If I could describe this book with one word,that would be "Unique".For me this was one of the most interesting contemporary-fantasy books I have ever read.Despite the book being created on folklore,fairy-tales and legends I can confirm that The Hollow Gods is far more complicated than a standard fairy-tale based book.The characters became more and more interesting as the story progressed and the little romance included was a very nice touch(this is coming from someone who isn't a huge fan of romance overall).The world building was decent although sometimes it got confusing.which is something natural in multi-realm worlds in my opinion.The whole "Dreamwalker" thing is explained very vaguely at first(which I think the author did on purpose) but gets sorted out in a very beautiful way.One thing that annoyed me from time to time was the continuous use of curse-words and odd depictions,usually found in Kai.'s POV.While it was ok and understandable at times,sometimes it wasn't necessary at all.The writing was also beautiful and rich.At last,I appreciated the name of the character we would be following during a chapter typed on top of the chapter;it really helped and made things less confusing, Overall this was a very good book,.with a rather okayish to weak start and a very nice ending.I'd recommend it to most fantasy readers,especially to ones who love fairy-tales and legends!

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I usually don't read horror books but this book got my attention. I am really glad that i gave this book a chance. It has definitely a unique storyline and strong characters. I can't wait to read more of this story.

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So I went into this book expecting your standard dark fantasy fare. What I got was a fantastic genre blending book that kept me on the edge of my seat. As someone who suffers from extreme anxiety, i really love the mental health themes woven in the book.

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This book completely blew me away! If you're looking for a story that is fast paced, all consuming, and open to a little interpretation, this is the book for you! Definitely some gothic horror vibes going on, which is so fun. Like I said, you have to be ready for a little interpretation and confused. BUT it's all in good fun. Vrana does an amazing job at twisting fantasy and reality, and it is quite the ride. As long as you hold on tight, you shouldn't fall off the ride! My favorite thing about this book is that we have three main characters: Miya, Kai, and Mason. All three are on different paths to the same points, and it gets messy very fast. I adored going on each individually journey with them and experiencing all the tangles and chaos with them!

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I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. A dark tale with a folklore flavor and a modern setting, The Hollow Gods carries you along through dark woods and dreamscapes as young women disappear throughout the years, lured away by the mysterious Dreamwalker. Caught up in a cycle that repeats itself, seemingly driven by an ancient evil, Miya and Kai fight to put a stop to the disappearances, and break the curse that lays over the town of Black Hollow. Skeptic Mason, running from his own tragedy, finds himself drawn into the struggle even as he tries to debunk the myth of the Dreamwalker and prove it to be nothing more than superstition. This was a very enjoyable read. The main characters were interesting and well developed for the story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoy’s dark fantasy, especially one with a bit of a shifter element to it. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book.

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*I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. * 3.5 The Hollow Gods is the story of a small town who has been haunted by the folklore/myth of the Dreamwalker. A suspicious entity who lures women into the woods. We follow 3 perspectives in the story; Miya, a young college student trying to stay afloat while dealing with feelings of being a disappointment, Kai, a cursed alpha male and Mason a doctor who is dealing with his first loss of a patient. I really enjoyed the folklore that surrounded Black Hollow. It was very atmospheric and gave off a spooky, fairytale vibe. However, it felt more like a paranormal YA book than an adult horror (Which isn’t a bad thing!) I was, however, expecting scarier, anxiety-inducing scenarios and whilst the book had a lot of atmosphere it felt more like an ‘old-world’ fairy tale told in a modern setting. I really enjoyed the writing and look forward to A. J. Vrana future books. Overall, I enjoyed the story and the folklore/storytelling that went into the world-building. I did find at times that the story dragged and the pacing fell of course. I think the representation of grief, guilt, and anxiety were all handled with care and accuracy. I am looking forward to where the story will go in the next book.

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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. 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 there. 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! Review can be seen on my blog at https://onereadingnurse.com/2020/07/21/arc-review-the-hollow-gods-by-a-j-vrana/

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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.

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For centuries, it has been foretold the return of the Dreamwalker, the folklore says she lures young woman into the forest, possess them, and they almost always end up dead. The Hollow Gods follow three perspectives. Miya a struggling uni student, that might be the next Dreamwalker’s victim. Kia who wakes up next to the lifeless body of the latest girl found dead, his memory blank. Mason who runs away from the city filled with guilt of losing his patient, to find that his sanity might be tested. This book was creepy, atmospheric, mystery-filled, and kept you on your seat. If you scare easily don’t read with the lights off. What made this book stand out for me and made it rememberable was the folklore of the Dreamwalker. The amount of detail Vrana put into creating this fable was remarkable and it paid off. I feel like I could look up with lore right now and find it. It went into so much depth and everything that was mentioned came back around in the end. The characters were really fleshed out people. They all had their demons like us real people do. I liked all three of their perspectives but found Kia’s to be more interesting to start with. I felt like I related to Myia the most out of all the characters, she was struggling with normal day to day issues, while wanting to get away, I do that my reading. She was not a person to reckon with as she will not shy away. Mason’s self-journey was great to read about. He went running away from his guilt only to find it is hard to run away from something that follows you. Kia had to deal with a literal demon haunting him making his life hell. Kia was a badass guy and he also doesn’t know how to deal with people. There was rep for grief and guilt that I can’t say was good or not. But there was rep of anxiety in here, and I felt like Vrana did a good job with it from personal experience. The way she described the panic attacks, or how your anxiety makes you feel, I was reading it and was like she has just described what I feel like. Of course, everyone’s anxiety presents in different ways so that might not be the case for everyone who reads this book. Overall it was a great read, and definitely a very strong debut novel. I gave this 5 Stars. I really can’t wait till the sequel to come out and Hollow Gods haven’t even been released yet. Thank you to NetGalley, A.J Vrana and the publishers for approving me a copy.

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I was directed towards this book by a friend. I probably would have over looked it otherwise because i haven’t seen this book being talk about or shared. It’s also a debut novel for this author. I went into this book with very low expectations but was very surprised to find myself enjoying it. Briefly summarized: A town with a deep seed history and folk lore talk about the Dreamwalker. The Dreamwalker lures in girls from the town into the dark hallow forest where the girls are lost and return different or they don’t return at all. This story has three POVs. The first being Kai who is a snarky asshole who wakes up next to a dead girl in the woods. (Mmmhhh seems odd already) The second character is Miya who is college student. She starts seeing signs that maybe she will be the Dreamwalker’s next victim. Lastly, there’s mason the doctor which is a skeptic but gets twisted up in his own personal gain from the Dreamwalker lore. I honestly would have been happier with less of this character. He put a real damper on the fun time I was having with the other two characters. I’ve read a couple of multi POV books with different story lines that eventually lead into one another. They all left me only caring about one story line the whole time or only had them merge/ connect towards the end. I think this book did a great job in only making you wait 30% into the book before they were starting to connect. After that 30% mark I was devouring this book. I wanted to know more about the towns mystery and legends. I felt like this book was dark twisted version of the little red riding hood fairy tale. Which I enjoyed the little references to it through the story. I also felt a little nostalgia from when I use to read ya fantasy but I was happy to find this book had many dark elements that complemented the genre I read now. So if your looking for something with that ya fantasy feel but with a dark side than I’d pick this book up!

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I loved this book so much that I didn't want it to end. It's a wonderful mixture of fantasy, spirituality, folklore, the supernatural and...I could go on forever. Beautifully written with three dimensional characters that the reader can really care about, it was such a delight to read. A brief precis of the plot is difficult but I will try. The Hollow Gods is the first book in The Chaos Cycle and is written by A. J. Vrana. Miya, a student living away from her family for the first time, is struggling with a disappointing University course, lack of money and loneliness. Kai is struggling to cope with the bizarre events that have plagued his life and Mason is coming to the end of his residency as an Oncologist, having lost a patient he has taken a six month sabbatical to recover from his grief and guilt. All three are in Black Hollow, a town haunted by its past and the residents' superstitions. To find out what happens during the events that follow you will need to read the book yourself, something which, if you're anything like me, will be an incredible treat. This is a book to keep, I know I will be rereading it and for £5.99 it's a bargain. The book will be published on 28 July and is available for pre-order now.

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WHOA. This book blew me away on so many levels. Unique and mind-bending, I felt like Alice in Wonderland plunging into the rabbit hole while reading this. Or Neo in The Matrix. Because am I reading a dream or a reality? It tells a story of Black Hollow, a small town obsessed (or possessed?) with a folklore about a Dreamwalker who lures young women into the woods and possesses them. We get introduced to Miya, a depressed college student who tries to stay afloat of her circumstances; Kai, a rugged handsome man with a blurred memory and a short temper; Mason, a doctor running away from guilt after losing a patient; and Ama, a mysterious but intriguing woman with blinding white hair. We also get introduced to the townsfolk and their strong belief to the lore -- so strong that it can be seen by their vehement reactions when the topic came up. They do not like hearing about the story of the Dreamwalker, about how the young women who got lost in the woods change when they return. "I think the villagers feel terrible about their own history... They're ashamed. All these signs that the Dreamwalker's coming back--it's just their fear and guilt talking. They have to believe the Dreamwalker is evil to justify all the violence that's happened. And now they're paranoid. They see her everywhere, in everything. Through these characters, we get to know more about the folklore and the superstitions that the townspeople are afraid of. This isn't a story of only one person. This is the story of Miya, of Kai and Mason and Ama. This is the story of Black Hollow and its people, and how reality meshes with fiction. I admit, I found it hard to follow the story... It is deep. It conveys a lot of meanings. But in the same way that the characters try to find answers to this folklore, I just let myself get immersed in the story, damned about interpretations. "Stories aren't told to convey the facts. They're told to convey the truth", says the book. And it rings true. More than these observations, I love the prose and the characterization of the key players. I love how Miya found strength beyond her depression, and her undeniable chemistry with Kai. I love Kai's sharp and soft edges. He's all alpha-male (no pun intended, LOL), but he's like a puppy on things he couldn't control that involves Miya. But take note, this isn't a love story. This is Inception-like fantasy... with a sprinkle of romance. Mind-boggling, hard to keep up, but I still enjoyed it. I like a good puzzle. (Thank you, Netgalley, for the opportunity to read this before the official release!)

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Folklore is such a beautiful addition to any fantasy story. When properly used, you don't just have a tale with fantastical elements—now you have a tale that revolves around a people and their culture, their beliefs and practices, their fears and attempts to vanquish and conquer that fear, as well as the history of the lore itself and how it matured into the world of that story. That's what The Hollow Gods delivered. First of all, A. J. Vrana has an ease to her writing style that made me get sucked into the book within a couple of chapters. Before I knew what hit me, I was fascinated and needed to know more. When given the time and attention that it deserves, The Hollow Gods flies by, and before you know it, you're done. There's more to this tale, there has to be, and I need to know it—that's how I find myself, abandoned after having finished. With three POVs, we're given Kai, Emiliya and Mason to follow. Out of the three, Mason was the one that I had the most difficulty connecting to. There's a back and forth to his personality that got on my nerves sometimes, and I couldn't always pinpoint what he wanted. He clearly believes, despite what he says to himself, or he wouldn't be chasing around the town as he does. However, even when truth smacks him in the face he continues to deny that he should continue on the path that he's started traveling. Putting myself in his shoes, I would be slightly terrified, sure. But given the opportunity to delve into an in-depth world, curse, and myth, how could I not jump at the chance to follow that road and know more? Kai and Miya are so much easier to become acquainted with. Kai has the sort of personality that I sometimes wish I owned in certain situations: he doesn't give a damn about appearances, could not care less about what people have to say or think about him, and he doesn't mince words. He's just absolutely brutal about it all, and for that I give him props. He doesn't live in a world in which he would survive were he any different. There is never an ounce of doubt on where Kai stands or how I felt about him. And Miya is rather similar. There's a slight ambivalence to her at the start, while dreams plague her and the Dreamwalker stalks, until she comes to terms with the fact that she simply does not belong where she is and needs to explore that. Taking Kai's hand and following him into the forest begins her and our awareness into who she is and where she should stand. There seems to be an insta-love between these two, but that's smoke and mirrors (and that's not simply due to their past in other lives). Miya isn't so much blindly trusting of Kai as she is curious, and that curiosity leads her to see past his facade and into someone who slowly unfolds to accepting her back. There are two meetings between them before she moves fully into his domain, but they're well developed enough that I didn't feel them rushing into anything. From the get-go there's an obvious attraction, and if anything, I'm thankful for the fact that it's not surrendered to right away. Vrana portrays the warmth and heat in their relationship without making it the sole focus of the book. Thank you. Where the meat really rests in this novel, however, is the legend surrounding Black Hollow. Please be aware that things are not always going to be clear to the reader, and I don't think that they're meant to be. This is a fable that unfolds in the subconscious for a good portion of it, and as such, it is written to be full of meanings that do not easily pinpoint to answers unless we go further. This is, I think, my favorite part of this book: how real the mind of a person is written. The complexity and hesitancy that wraps around us in dreams—and for some, visions—only makes sense when we are willing to dig deeper. And the deeper you dig, oxymoronically, the more lost you become even as you find yourself in the end. That's the weaving of the story of the Dreamwalker and the plague that has owned Black Hollow and its people for years. The Hollow Gods isn't “scary” or “horrific” in the common sense of the word. There are monsters, sure. And there are moments of terror, yes. But these are things that exist within the self a lot more so than outside of it. It's a theoretical sort of horror that deals with who one is and becomes very relatable a lot of the time. It's something that Emiliya has to experience for herself, and a quest on which we follow her from the start of the book.

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The Hollow Gods is about a folklore gone crazy. A small town has a kind of boogeyman story to keep everyone out of the woods. You'd think in the 21st century they'd dismiss it for what it is, just a story, but not this town. They still hold on to the myth that was started when the town was new. A visiting doctor is determined to prove them right, but can he in time to save them? This was an interesting story. It has folklore, romance, mystery, suspense and a bit of horror thrown in for good measure. The characters are fully fleshed, including flaws, which add to the realism. I enjoyed the story and the descriptions allowed me to see the story play out in my head like a movie. There was symbolism peppered throughout the story that makes the reader think.

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Black Hollow ist nicht, was es scheint. Das verschlafene Dörfchen im kanadischen British Columbia wirkt auf den ersten Blick wie der perfekte Ort, um alle Sorgen hinter sich zu lassen: ruhige Landbewohner, ein Markt am Rand des Waldes, der Wald selbst ... Doch was im Wald angeblich lauert, das ist eine ganz andere Geschichte. The Hollow Gods ist der erste Teil der Chaos Cycle Duologie von A.J. Vrana und versetzt uns in die Fußstapfen nicht eines, sondern gleich von drei Hauptcharakteren: Da wäre zum einen Miya, eine junge College-Studentin, die nach einigen Rückschlägen eigentlich bloß versucht, ihr Leben wieder auf die Reihe zu bekommen – wäre da nicht auch die Erinnerung an ihr Kindheitstreffen mit einem Wolf am Rande des Waldes von Black Hollow und die Geschichten rund um die Dreamwalkerin, die Wölfe nutzt, um junge Mädchen in den Wald zu locken. Kai muss sich indessen nicht erst fragen, ob es so etwas wie übersinnliche Geschöpfe tatsächlich gibt – immerhin ist er selbst eines. Der Halbwolf hat andere Probleme: einen Dämon, der seinen Geist heimsucht, und eine Serie an unliebsamen Erwachen im Wald neben den Leichen junger Frauen – ohne Erinnerung daran, wie genau es dazu kam. Und dann wäre da noch Arzt Mason, dessen fatale Fehlentscheidung über die Therapie seiner Patientin ihr Leben frühzeitig beendete, und der in Black Hollow eigentlich bloß eine Auszeit plant – nur um dann doch in die verworrenen Mythen und Legenden der Stadt gezogen zu werden. Umso mehr, da die Bewohner des Ortes bloß äußerst wenig Interesse daran zu hegen scheinen, ihre Sagen offen zu teilen – selbst dann, wenn diese zu einem schier unglaublichen Mord von einem ehemals liebenden Vater an seiner aus dem Wald zurückgekehrten Tochter führt. The Hollow Gods spielt auf der einen Seite mit der Frage, wie sehr Mythen und Legenden unser Dasein prägen bzw. wie viel Wahrheit in ihnen tatsächlich steckt, wirft aber auf der anderen Seite auch jene Frage in den Raum, ob wir unserem eigenen Geist wirklich immer trauen können. Ist die Dreamwalkerin real? Oder vielleicht doch nur die Ausrede eines hysterischen Dorfes, ihren dunkelsten Seiten freien Lauf zu lassen? Kann man seinen eigenen Gedanken trauen, wenn diese von der Stimme eines Dämons heimgesucht werden? Sind Träume Portale in andere Realitäten oder doch nur ein Symptom des eigenen Wahnsinns? Und warum scheint ein ganzer Ort regelrecht darauf zu warten, vom Unheil heimgesucht zu werden? Auch wenn die Story, die in The Hollow Gods erzählt wird, durchaus Essenz hat und vor allem gegen Ende hin so manche offene Frage beantwortet, liegt ihre größte Stärke dennoch darin, um die von der Autorin geschickt gesponnenen Mythen und Legenden eher herumzutanzen und nur hie und da handfeste Fakten zu liefern. Als Leser folgt man abwechselnd drei Charaktere mit drei vollkommen unterschiedlichen Blickwinkeln auf das Geschehen und weiß so stets mehr als diese selbst – und kennt dennoch nur einen Teil des gesamten Mysteriums. Das Spannende an der Geschichte ist somit vor allem, genau wie Miya, Kai und Mason selbst, mehr über die Dreamwalkerin und die Sagen von Black Hollow zu erfahren, um nach und nach herauszufinden, was real ist und was nicht bzw. wie alles miteinander verbunden ist. Der flotte Stil, den die Autorin A.J. Vrana dabei an den Tag legt, hält das gesamte Buch über bei Trab und sorgt dafür, dass man The Hollow Gods so schnell nicht weglegen möchte. Schön ist auch, dass sich der Stil mit jedem Charakter entsprechend ändert und man so nicht nur unterschiedliche Blickwinkel erhält, sondern auch die unterschiedlichen Persönlichkeiten der drei durchwegs gut geschriebenen Protagonisten beim Lesen wunderbar fühlen kann. Der einzige kleine Wermutstropfen an The Hollow Gods ist, dass einem gegen Ende hin ein riesiger Berg an losen (aber doch durchaus spannenden) Infos geboten wird, die einen zwar näher an die Lösung von allem bringen, aber dennoch etliche Fragen offenlassen und letztendlich vor allem verwirren – aber auch das ist in Ordnung, handelt es sich schließlich um den ersten Band einer Duologie, die in Teil zwei hoffentlich noch weitere Antworten liefern wird. Zwischen Mystik und Wahnsinn The Hollow Gods hat eine ungewöhnliche und genau deshalb so spannende Erzählweise: Zum einen lässt das Buch von Minute eins an keinen Zweifel daran, dass Übersinnliches in der Story tatsächlich existiert, auf der anderen Seite wirft es aber durch die gesamte Geschichte hindurch immer wieder die Frage auf, wie viel von dem, was Übersinnlich ist, tatsächlich auch das ist, was die zugehörigen Sagen und Legenden vermuten lassen. A.J. Vranas Werk liefert dabei eher Indizien als handfeste Fakten und lässt die Leser somit in einem befriedigenden Limbo aus Erkenntnis und Neugier zurück – der im zweiten Teil der Duologie wohl noch seine tatsächliche Auflösung finden wird. Für alle Fans von Dark Fantasy bekommt The Hollow Gods von uns eine eindeutige Empfehlung. Review published in Unaltered Magazine: https://unaltered.at/2020/06/02/review-the-hollow-gods/

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This was a well written, good read! I had not read anything by this author so I'm glad I took a chance!

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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.

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When I read the description of this book I was not sure if it was something that I would like, but I wanted to give it a try. I thought this book started out rather slow and boring, but after several chapters in I was hooked. I wanted to know what type of secrets Black Hollow was hiding, why girls that went missing turned up dead, who was killing them, and why. I wanted to know why the Dreamwalker, a figure of local folklore, would want to lure young women into the woods and possess them, and why do they almost always end up dead after they return? When Kai was first introduced, I wasn’t sure if I liked him or not. He was very rude and obnoxious. I wanted to know why did Kai wake up next to the lifeless body of a recently missing girl, and why did he have no memory of how he got there? I thought Miya was a very interesting character. I thought it was odd that she hung out at night on a swing in a park playground alone. It was almost like she was looking for trouble. It was interesting how Mason, Miya, and Kai met each other. Even though the author jumped from one character’s story to another before all three characters came together, the author made it very smooth. It was easy to follow when he went from one story to another. I recommend this book. I have never read this author before, but I am going to look for more books by A.J. Vrana.

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I’ve just finished Hollow Gods, thank you to @netgalley & @theparliamentpress for eARC. This is a supernatural adult fantasy loosely based on Red Riding Hood (in my opinion it’s not marketed that way). Soooo I absolutely loved the humour in this, Kai had me laughing so hard and he needs some serious high fives for some of his epic one liners. It’s dark and unsettling. Grief and mental health focus highly throughout this story and each character has their own battle to face. A few characters utterly confused me, as did the ending, I mean, I think I get it but I’m not sure....maybe that’s the whole point? This book is so vividly written that I was dreaming about it. I really liked it but I kinda got to the end and literally said out loud ‘eh? That’s it? Wtf happened?!’ So yeah it’s an odd one to rate!

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4 1/2 "Chaotic" Stars I absolutely love it when a book can so flawlessly blend folklore, fantasy, real world issues and character introspection. Yes, I grouped all that into one sentence. Don't judge me...just wait. First of all, the folklore woven into this book was absolutely perfect. Of course, to believe that those folklore stories could be real, you have to take a trip into a world of fantasy since that isn't real world stuff, right? The world Ms. Vrana created was really ideal for this tale. She described real world issues and problems and tucked in the fantasy elements just like they belonged there. Her descriptions and attention to detail were wonderful. It all felt very effortless to the reader. It never felt like she was over the top or reaching for something that didn't fit. Everything really flowed very easily and kept me engaged the entire time. This story is told from three perspectives. The first is Miya, a university student who is struggling to stay in school. Her grades aren't what they should be and she's having money issues. As the story begins, she is trying to figure out where she really belongs and what she's doing wrong. The second is Kai. You know instantly that there is something different about him. He isn't quite human but isn't 100% animal. He's some kind of mixture but it's never clearly labeled. You do know he is a deeply troubled soul who is haunted by voices and possibly memories. Lastly, there is Mason, an oncology resident who is "taking a break" after recently losing a patient. Mason is struggling with grief and remorse and isn't sure how to deal with it. Everything he believed in feels as if it's crumbling around him. He is searching for something when he arrives in Black Hollow, but he has no clue what it is. Meanwhile, Black Hollow has a history of young women going missing. The lore of the area is that they are taken by the Dreamwalker. When these girls are found, they are rumored to be changed (possibly thought to be possessed) and they always end up dead within a few days of their return. The villagers of Black Hollow are very superstitious people and this belief isn't something they are willing to be convinced isn't true. The Hollow Gods was really well done. I was invested in the characters and the storyline. I had to see how the issues resolved themselves. Ms. Vrana did a great job with this novel and I look forward to reading her future works. "Creation...destruction...we think of them as opposites and yet they are like brothers...two sides of the same coin." Thank you to NetGalley, The Parliament House Press and Ms. Vrana for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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The Hollow Gods was a fascinating book. It focused on Miya, a local girl in the town of Black Hollow. She feels like something is missing from her life until she meets Kai, who is what we know as a werewolf. He identifies as a wolf though and often thinks of humans as a species separate to him. However, upon meeting Miya, he slowly starts changing his mind. Mason, a disillusioned doctor who just had a tragic end to a case, decides to play detective and banish the belief that the town has in a supernatural being, the Dreamwalker, who lures young ladies out to the woods and possesses them. However, certain events occur which make Mason wonder if maybe there is some truth to the superstitions after all. I think my favorite part of this book was Kai's bluntness and the fact that Miya was not having it. The repartee between them was quite amusing, especially when Mason was introduced to them together. My only grouse was a scene where Kai was extremely crass and I found it a bit much. The plot moved quickly and it was interesting. I was engrossed from the beginning. All in all, I think this author is someone who work I wouldn't mind reading more of

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The Hollow Gods Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this eARC in exchange for an honest review. This was an eerie, dark book with some interesting twists. This was a book I found that I could not put down after the initial confusion I found with trying to get my head around the different character perspectives. Once I did that I loved it. Miya lives in Black Hollow and feels lost and like a failure. There was so much that she was struggling with but did not feel able to talk to anyone as she did not want to disappoint them. She was there to study journalism but she was finding that the subject matter was not what she was looking for and so was failing big time. To get away she goes to an abandoned playground at the edge of the forest. On one of those visits she finds a girls who has been missing, still alive. A few weeks later the same girl is found dead. Killed by her own father who said she was not her daughter. Mason wanted to get away from his work as a doctor after losing his first patient and he is blaming himself for wanting to try everything to fix her. He comes to Black Hollow to get away for a while but discovers that the legend of the Dreamwalker is front and centre for the town. Not that he believes in it and he decides to become an amateur sleuth to find out just what this legend is all about and why young women are dying at the hands of their family members after returning from being lost in the forest. Kai is on his own and fighting something inside of him that wants to hurt him. He lives in the forest near Black Hollow, the same forest that the young girls of Black Hollow go missing in. The same forest that the Dreamwalker is said to haunt. I loved his character. His dark sarcastic humour has me laughing out loud regularly. He was tough and had a hard protective shell that he used to protect himself but there were soft compassionate bits that poked through during the story. Mason initially was someone that you could feel pity for given he had just lost a patient but as his character evolved, I found him to be quite annoying as he was looking for an answer to his problem and thought he could solve that by discounting the legend of the Dreamwalker.

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This was a really good read. It has a little bit of everything, some light horror, dark themes along with a really pissed off wolf. Kai has to be one of my all-time favorite characters and the thing that I loved most about this entire book was that he was never treated as though the wolf was "part" of him. The wolf actually was him. That was a refreshing turn from the standard "he could feel the beast inside him raging to get out" that is normally found in other books. The story has a lot of turns and levels with dreamscapes, in-verse folklore and myths. Those things were interesting but hard to keep track of, which is why I gave it 4 stars, I would have given 5 otherwise.

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Digital ARC received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review: I was really impressed with this title. It had all the edgy, perspective changing, superstitious, paranormal shenanigans that I enjoy. I always enjoy the subtle plot shifts that come with a well-done shift from one character perspective to another. Also, I don't usually pick a favorite character (because they invariably die nasty deaths), but I love Kai's character. I think it's because he reminds me of my husband... which says a lot about my life when I think about it.

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The lore and visual writing style is so impactful! The banter is an added plus, a touch of humor that breaks up the horror very nicely.

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I Adored this book. It had me hooked from page one. Drawing me in and making me feel as if i was there living it myself. It is one of my top reads for this year by far

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I really liked this! I can’t wait to read the second instalment! It’s a great blend of magical realism, legend & fantasy! I wasn’t sure what Mason’s character really added to the story though.

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I absolutely love a good spooky story steeped in folklore, and The Hollow Gods delivers perfectly on that. Based on Slavic Folklore we stumble upon this quaint little town that has a dark secret at it’s core. It’s here in this town that we meet our three main characters Kai, Miya, and Mason. Each of their journeys leads us one step closer to the truth. The world building and finite details of the setting and history are so beautifully crafted that I almost felt like I had stepped through time to an alternate universe and into a reality that was this book. You almost start to sink into the hysteria with the townspeople as young women start disappearing only to reappear and die shortly after. It’s hard not to suspect some grisly curse or fate settled on the town, or som other dark culprit. Miya, Kai and Mason are fantastic characters! I truly felt for Mason and his story, he reasoning for escaping city life is truly heartbreaking. Meanwhile, can I just get a round of applause for the sizzling tension between Kai and Miya? I absolutely adored Kai’s character. Lone wolf, bad boy ego with a dark secret…. yess pleaseee! Excuse me while I drool a little. I felt that Kai’s character was so well crafted, I’d never read a werewolf character like him before!! All in all I have The Hollow Gods a solid 4 stars!! I couldn’t put it down, it grasped my interest right and I simply cannot wait for the finale to this dark and fantastical duology!

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4.5 stars I'm late! I know that... and I'm sorry. The Hollow Gods is a book that reminded me how much I like folklore in books. I'm bewitched by Kai. Every moment he shows himself I lost a heartbeat. I like Vrana's writing style: you're stuck in those pages, feeling a sense of fear, pain and anxiety - it's like a majestic dark fairytale. The book tells a story of Black Hollow, the town where 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 because of Dreamwalker, a girl who was outcasted a long time ago and by killing the girls she seeks her revenge. Kai, Miya, and Mason are the main characters and I'm in love with their characterization. I like when characters can be so real, how you can be in tune with them and see through their eyes all the story, even if the POV is in third person. Kai is the boy that could have my heart. He is shapeshifting wolf who is trying to chase away demons inside his head. He has the wolf's mood even when he's human. Firstly he's not only snarky dialogues and jokes, but also Miya is a girl who came back in town after leaving university and feels lost and like a failure. She has always been near the woods until she realizes she may be the next Dreamwalker’s victim. Mason is a doctor who has just moved to the town and he decides to find out just what the legend of Dreamwalker is about. The worldbuilding focuses on Black Hollow and a place that you could call "other place" - a dark and scary one - both are described in detail and it gave me even more dark vibes that made the story even better. Now, I'm curious about how the second book of this duology could surprise me.

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I’ll start saying that this novel combines Young Adult literature and Gothic fiction pretty well. There was a supernatural, horror feeling in all of the chapters, which increased the more I read, and the more I read the more I liked it. It was the perfect vicious circle, something it’s been a long since I last experienced. Full review (August 28): https://tintanocturna.blogspot.com/2020/08/resena-review-hollow-gods.html

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This book was awesome with an edgy Stephen King vibe. I loved the lore. The characters where very complex and well written and this book was a fantastic find! This book is violent and gut wrenching and everything from the synopsis I hoped it would be! I will definitely be looking for more from this author. I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review.

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I think this is one of the best debuts I’ve read this year. The Hollow Gods surprisingly has everything I want in contemporary fantasy. The story centers in a local folklore about the Dreamwalker who lures young women into the woods and possess them. And after they’re found, they almost always end up dead anyway. The mystery and suspense surrounding the folklore is what initially kept my interest. The town of Black Hollow is so mysterious, including its people, and definitely so atmospheric. I can imagine it as one of those movies where the main characters visit a town that’s filled with secrets, just like one of the MCs, Mason, did. Speaking of MCs, I love the characters. First, there’s Miya who’s struggling in life, but especially financially. Her reality is gloomy and maybe that’s why she’s a bit drawn to the mystery of the woods in Black Hollow. There’s also the mystery of the wolf she once saw and can’t totally forget. By the way, the belief of the people about wolves in this story is fascinating, along with the “Dreamwalker” I really find the concept very interesting. Kai, another main character, is a wolf and what I like about him is he has certain behaviours that are still wolf-ish even if he’s in his human form. But that’s not the only reason why Kai is my favorite among all the characters. I like everything about him. Sure, when he was first introduced I was worried because his actions are definitely not for a protagonist but he grew on me. He has the foulest mouth and the softest heart. Also, I like the hint of romance in this book. Yes, it’s just a hint for now, more like a beginning of a romance, which I think I’ll see more in book 2. For now, I love the banters between Kai and Miya. I even find some of their interaction sexy. Mason is a very well-written character too. I like his backstory and loved how he let his curiosity drive his actions in Black Hollow. This, in particular, is a brilliant move for the author. The author used Mason’s character to introduce things so there is no issue of info-dumping or too much telling in this book. Everything I need to learn about Black Hollow and the folklore, I learned through Mason. But still, he has a character of his own and very likable too. There are other characters I also found interesting, like Ama and her Raven friend. But to share more about her might spoil a lot. My only issue with the book is the beginning. It’s a bit slow but after a few chapters, things get more interesting and I couldn’t stop reading. I also think the book wrapped up neatly, at least for this book. I’m excited to read the sequel. And by the way, the prose is terrific and the author is really good at writing dialogues. Overall, I highly recommend this book to ALL lovers of Contemporary Fantasy, magic realism, paranormal and atmospheric stories, and of course, if you love fun characters, this book is for you.

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Unusually, I really liked all the characters in this. In Miya I saw pieces of myself. It was in the way she believed in something more than just the world around us, her stubbornness to do it all herself and to not ask for help, the sanctuary of being alone, and I appreciated that even though she grew braver and understood her role in the larger world, she didn't falter from her morality. Kai was pure sass wrapped up in a hot wolf man. Brash, often abrasive, and deeply damaged, but he cared, he loved, and he has purpose as he goes forward. Mason is the characterisation of your general human population, the majority of whom don't believe in the supernatural, in the other, and however little believe in the science of things. Mason too is struggling, he is reeling from the loss of his young patient, feeling unwarranted guilt at his role as her doctor. He becomes entangled with Miya and Kai without noticing almost as soon as he arrives in Black Hollow and I have a feeling his role isn't done yet. It is always so hard to review a good story without giving anything away, but what I can say is that this is pulled together beautifully, very well thought out and planned to give us not only this world and a town full of crazy, but a realm that leaves you questioning if you have guessed right and lets you think that you know where the story is going, but leaves you missing the fork in the road. The Hollow Gods is book 1 of a duology with the second expected next year, and I am looking forward to seeing where it all goes. I liked the way it ended and it would absolutely work as a stand alone, but it will be good to get more of Miya, Kai, and Mason. 4.5/5 stars, rounded up for review as it definitely deserved the half star!

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this had a great spooky atmosphere and it kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to the end. I liked the characters and the story itself. I hope there is more in the series.

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I loved this very much! The characters, the actions and even the plot itself! Very inspiring for my own book too!

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Great from the start. If you like Wolves, Ravens, crazy townsfolk possessed and mob like, folklore, dreamwalkers, unbelievable truths, secrets of small towns, forests. This will be right up your alley. I enjoyed every bit of this one. I received this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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The Hollow Gods [Blurb goes here] I really wanted to like this book, since the story is really good, unfortunately the writing style makes the story drag at snail pace. I found myself unable to read it in two seatings, like I usually do. I ended up reading other books while I finished this one, which is not a good sign. The story is unique at blending different genres. The characters are flawed, which I really liked, but since those flaws seem irrelevant to their actions and the story, they might as well have been perfect. There's one character that feels completely irrelevant to the story, he's there, he discovers a few things, he has recurring dreams about the antagonist, but does nothing to ad to the story, except maybe tie in some loose ends. As I said, I loved the story as a whole. Because it's not only an interesting idea, it's an original one. That's the reason behind the fours stars.

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I received this and as an eARC to read for free in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for giving me access. This story was not at all what I thought it was going to be and I loved it! It was dark with some hilarious, sarcastic lines sprinkled throughout. Vrana kept me intrigued through out the whole book and the multiple POVs were written wonderfully. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series!

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I will be doing a video on this book but for now, let me gush about the amount of enjoyment I had when reading this novel. We follow a two-point perspective following Kai and Miya who are likable characters from beginning to the end. This has the aspects of the folklore of a Dreamwalker turning an entire town into a nest of paranoia and violence. This book is a pageturner and everyone needs to read it!

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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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I was not sure of this but man was I surprised! The storytelling was impeccable. I was drawn in right away and could not put the book down. It is truly a gripping story with a great plot and well-developed characters. The best part though was the world-building.

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My Rating : 4.5🌟 . Kindle/ e-Arc/ August2020 . Thank you Netgalley for the gifted e-Arc which lets me give you my unbiased opinion. . This book follows our three main characters Kai, Miya and Mason and their journey as they navigate the old local folklore haunting the town of Hollow Gods. Its really different from what I've read, told in third person POV, and made my head hurt in a good way trying to figure out, whether what happened was real or overactive village imagination. . First, I absolutely loved all the characters in this book! Mia is an absolute fierce lady with so much passion and character flaws. Kai was an absolute bundle of grumpy joy who I fell in love with because of his snarky dialogues. Seriously there was so much drama happening when he was concerned and it was quite funny even when the situation was serious. Mason was the clueless one finding out about everything for the first time and that gives us readers time to understand the town, the folklore, past murders and the plot as a whole. Even though I loved Kai with all my heart, I think I have a soft spot for Mason because he went into everything with an open mind and helped keep the 'band' together. I think my favorite character of all times in this book was the Raven. Seriously, I could feel the eye roll or the face tilt while reading those scenes. It was quite creepy and I loved it. . Second, the storyline was amazing, with amazing character arcs, plot twists and uncovered secrets of reality. You get the chills at times not because of the grumpy wolf, but few scenes were realistically written. And I lived for it ! I think I ship the romance in this book so much, with all the sexy banter and poop references and the swearing. . Now coming to the development, I think the way certain scenes were described added a lot of life to the story and made it memorable. Especially the scenes in the woods and the discussion of the disappearances. I think the only thing I didn't like was how the pacing was erratic at times and it took me a while to get into the book when it started. . Overall, I absolutely loved this book, and there were a lot of wood references, small town gossips, amazing dialogues, creeps vibes, snarky characters, amazing character arcs and that ending!! I can't wait for the next book to come out now!!

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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...

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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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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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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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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? This debut novel is filled to the brim with folklore and analysis of the characters is masterfully subtle yet effective in that the reader believes they are reading a story about a crazed and demonic woman that is terrorizing a town but in actuality it is an examination of anxiety, grief, loss, identity crisis and everything else you go through in fantasy realms. The writing is beautiful and the author develops a beautiful visual scene in an extraordinary way. She has developed scenes that are so real it is almost overwhelming and can almost play with your emotions and mind. The narrative is the point of view of three different characters and each one had a different tone/voice which really gave the impression of different characters talking and was an aspect that I love but is often rare in fantasy books. As well as the characterisation and the narrative I also like the romance aspect. It was only a small aspect of the novel but an important part because it allowed the reader a moment of desire and a break from the darkness. Overall, I loved the book and would give it a solid 4 stars due to the pace at the beginning being a bit slow for me.

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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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<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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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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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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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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