Black Hollow is a town with a dark secret.
For centuries, residents have foretold the return of the Dreamwalker—an ominous figure from local folklore said to lure young women into the woods and possess them. Yet the boundary between fact and fable is blurred by a troubling statistic: occasionally, women do go missing. And after they return, they almost always end up dead.
When Kai wakes up next to the lifeless body of a recently missing girl, his memory blank, he struggles to clear his already threadbare conscience.
Miya, a floundering university student, experiences signs that she may be the Dreamwalker’s next victim. Can she trust Kai as their paths collide, or does he herald her demise?
And after losing a young patient, crestfallen oncologist, Mason, embarks on a quest to debunk the town’s superstitions, only to find his sanity tested.
A maelstrom of ancient grudges, forgotten traumas, and deadly secrets loom in the foggy forests of Black Hollow. Can three unlikely heroes put aside their fears and unite to confront a centuries-old evil? Will they uncover the truth behind the fable, or will the cycle repeat?
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Award Winner in the Fiction: Fantasy category of the 2020 Best Book Awards sponsored by American Book Fest
Praise for The Hollow Gods
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 a 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 iridescent debut, THE HOLLOW GODS, is…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.
Utterly consuming with palpable emotion, an engaging mystery, and absolutely delicious tension, this is one that lingers after you’ve turned the final page, an itch that needs to be scratched.
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.
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 characters’ 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.
– Jules I., Librarian & NetGalley Reviewer
…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 its own against the greats.
– Christina, NetGalley Reviewer
Grounded in secrets, myths, 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. A thoroughly gripping, compelling tale.
– The Prairies Book Review
A fresh way of looking at fantasy and all the twists and turns that are possible. Incredibly believable characters that make you cheer, cry and even sometimes yell at the pages! Worth a read for anyone who wants to read something out of the ordinary and who want to make the extraordinary an everyday occurrence.
– Goodreads Reviewer
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.
– Beneath a Thousand Skies Book Blog