The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana (The Chaos Cycle #1)

The Hollow Gods

The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana

409 Pages

Young adult/Speculative fiction/Fantasy/Horror

Book #1 The Chaos Cycle Duology

Published by BooksGoSocial (28th July 2020)

Purchase from | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon UK|

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, BooksGoSocial, and the author via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating of 2.5

The town of Black Hollow definitely has it’s share of secrets. The townsfolk’s fear is rising, the mass hysteria is beginning, they have foretold the return of the Dreamwalker; a strange figure that lures young women into the woods bordering the town, and possesses them. The problem lies in the inability to distinguish fact from fable, as in reality, young women do go missing in the forest, and once they return, they always wind up dead. Kai, a young man, wakes up next to the dead body of the latest ‘kidnapping’ victim, she’s dead, and he can’t remember if he did it or not. Miya is down on her luck, she’s broke and she is failing university, but she refuses to ask her parents for help, yet things go from bad to worse when it seems as though she has been targeted to be the next victim. When her and Kai’s paths cross, can she trust him to lead her out the other side unscathed? Or is he doomed to lead her to her demise? And Mason Evans, a doctor on a ‘vacation’ that he is hoping will help him deal with the grief of losing a patient, finds himself enamored with the town’s superstitions, but can his mind handle the truth?

I requested this book because, as usual, the premise sounded super interesting, and I loved that it had an air of mystery along with the supernatural element that I so crave in my reading. But I feel like I may have expected too much from this story to the point that I feel a bit let down and dare I say, confused?

The story is told from three alternating point’s of view. We have Miya, who I deemed as the main protagonist. She’s a university student who is broke to the point of worry that her land lady is going to kick her out, and she’s failing university miserably and has been put on academic probation. She’s also an amateur ‘psychic’ for lack of a better term. She reads cards, and her fleeting best friend that is in the story for a whole of thirty seconds mentions how uncanny Miya’s ability to accurately tell her fortune is. One thing that really stuck out for me here, was that Miya wasn’t just doing tarot readings, she was practicing cartomancy which first originated with the Romani people as a game of sorts, the long and short of it is, that cartomancers use a deck of cards that looks like a regular playing card deck to ‘tell someone’s fortune’. I absolutely LOVED that Vrana included this small detail and I also love that in my experience of card reading, she actually knows what she’s talking about, I have learned to read cards, and the meanings of the cards that were brought up, were actually incredibly accurate to what I know. So this just really stuck in my mind. However, I felt that Miya didn’t really matter to the story as such, like, she did, stuff happens and things come to light and you kind of go “ohhhhhhhhh, I get it now” but I just felt like she was a very boring character to be honest and didn’t really lend much to the progression of the story in how she technically should have, with how things turned out in the end, I’m being super vague here because I don’t want to give anything away haha. Kai is an interesting character, a bit too broody and moody for my liking but I guess I can understand why as we learn things through the story progression, I didn’t really like his character that much though to be honest. And Miya and Kai’s relationship? Nope, not for me. It had an instalove kinda feel, but I know that it wasn’t exactly like that, there’s history there and it’s twined in with the story as a whole so I can’t really go into it without giving too much away, but I just really didn’t feel their relationship at all I’m afraid. At times it felt incredibly forced and I just couldn’t jive with it. I felt like it was a young adult relationship, but it kind of went beyond that? I just don’t know how to describe it at all besides the fact that it just wasn’t for me.

Now, our third narrator, Mason. I LOVED this guys character and I honestly wish that the whole story had been written from his point of view. I found myself enjoying his parts of the story more than anything else, and was super sad when it went back to the other characters because I felt like they didn’t do anything for the narration of the story. I love that Mason was trying to heal from a traumatic loss and in turn lost himself in the weird history of Black Hollow. I just wish we got to see more of him.

The story itself, while I understand why Vrana wrote the story in the way that she did – three point of views – I also don’t get why she did it. I feel like the way that the story was written made it so that the story didn’t quite know what it wanted to be exactly. Mason’s point of view lends the story an air of mystery and discovery, while Miya and Kai’s points of view makes it read like a young adult paranormal romance of sorts and it just clashed a bit, in my opinion. In turn, I believe that the story ends up quite convoluted and I found myself feeling confused more than anything. It felt like the story tried a little bit too hard to come across philosophical and in turn became quite monotonous and unengaging for me. I’m still not a hundred percent sure I understand what I just read and I hate going away from a book feeling confused and not knowing if I ‘got it’, it takes away the enjoyment of reading when this happens. I’m pretty sure I get it, but I am the King of second guessing myself, so now I’m left feeling stupid and confused.

I must say, I am super glad that I’m in the minority in my opinion, I just wish that I could have enjoyed it as much as others did. This book sounded so far up my alley but it just didn’t work for me. If you like a book that has an air of mystery and supernatural, that looks at the impact of history on present day events and people and that deals with deep seated familial issues, then give this one a go.

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