It’s time talk about darkly atmospheric reads, monsters in the woods, and The Hollow Gods.
I’m excited to be on the blog tour for The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana! This is book 1 in The Chaos Cycle Duology, where a maelstrom of ancient grudges, forgotten traumas, and deadly secrets loom in the foggy forests of Black Hollow. It’s basically the malevolent magical forest book with small town secrets and complexly messy characters you’ve been waiting for 😙👌🏻And since it’s New Adult, it doesn’t hold back from the dark side.
I’ve got a giveaway coming up and a design I’ve made! 😍
THANK YOU TO MTMC TOURS FOR HAVING ME on the tour!
A perfect story for contemporary fantasy readers who love their narratives razor-sharp and their secrets dark and deadly.
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?
A.J. Vrana is a Serbian-Canadian academic and writer from Toronto, Canada. She lives with her two rescue cats, Moonstone and Peanut Butter, who nest in her window-side bookshelf and cast judgmental stares at nearby pigeons. Her doctoral research examines the supernatural in modern Japanese and former-Yugoslavian literature and its relationship to violence. When not toiling away at caffeine-fueled, scholarly pursuits, she enjoys jewelry-making, cupcakes, and concocting dark tales to unleash upon the world. Her published works include The Chaos Cycle Duology: The Hollow Gods (2020) and The Echoed Realm (2021) from The Parliament House Press, and a short supernatural horror story, These Silent Walls (2020), printed in Three Crows Magazine.
There is something wicked in the woods…
The Hollow Gods is set in the small town of Black Hollow, where villages are as superstitious as they are jaded. It really hits those creepy-small-town vibes — making that contrast of showing this simple normal life in this nondescript town VS the reality of what these people do when they think someone is possessed. They have a history of girls going missing in the woods and coming back “different”. And then their families murder them.
…but what’s really going on?
We have three narrators! I did like how this really fleshed out the story, because all three come from such different backgrounds but want such similar things. There’s a lot of messages of feeling lost and displaced and lonely here, of not knowing how to reach out to people, of needing something more than what life has given you.
- Miya — is basically stuck with her life. She’s anxious and overwhelmed with college (and keeps dropping out). She can’t get a job. Everything seems too much, too hard, too big and she has so thoroughly lost her way. She’s entranced with the woods and with the wolves she used to see there as a kid. You could really feel her yearning to figure out where she belonged in life too.
- Kai — he’s a werewolf! And he’s always been a werewolf. It’s in his blood, his parents were Russian wolves, he’s shapeshifted all his life. This gives him such an animal side, like he never lost his humanity, he’s struggling just to find it. He’s very dark and very violent and crass, cruel but sometimes obliviously so. It was nice watching him thaw as he realised not everyone is the enemy.
- Mason — he’s a doctor who’s on a leave of absence after one of his patients died. He thought he was just…invincible and perfect and powerful, but in the end, he was too cocky and it cost someone their life. So he’s really struggling with grief? But also figuring out what he’s meant to do with his life. He ends up in this little town of Black Hollow to hide in his shame, and he ends up getting sucked into the town’s mysteries. Girls go missing. Strange old men want to speak with him. There’s a magic tree everyone knows about but no one knows where is. He wants answers — as a distraction from his own life, but also as a way to find new purpose.
I really loved the themes of the book too!
So much discussion on what it is to be lost and found, and how the sam situation can land differently on different people. Miya almost needs to get lost to find herself, while Mason needs stop running from his ghosts, and Kai just needs to chill 😂 Boy is stressing me out.
And the atmosphere? 😙👌🏻This is glorious.
I LOVE dark forest books, and add in wolves and shapeshifting and dreamscapes and strange ravens and dark messages lurking behind the trees, and we have this fascinating tale you can’t put down.
I’ve also made some Redbubble Quote Designs for the book!
The Hollow Gods will be discounted to $1.99 via Bookbub on November 10! Make sure to snag a copy.
Enter below for a chance to win a The Hollow Gods character poster!
November 2 – Paperfury
November 3 – The Bookwyrm’s Den
November 4 – Bookishfairytail
November 5 – The Reader and the Chef
November 6 – Melancholic Blithe
November 7 – Mirkwoodbooks
November 8 – A Court of Books and Love
November 9 – Leosthetics
November 10 – L.M. Durand’s Little Book Corner
November 11 – Woven from Words
tell me your favourite books with really vibrant/atmospheric settings? 😍and is this one on your tbr?