Five boys attacked her.
Now they must repay her with their blood and flesh.
Bethan is the apprentice to a green healer named Drina in a clan of Welsh Romanies. Her life is happy and ordered and modest, as required by Roma custom, except for one thing: Silas, the son of the chieftain, has been secretly harassing her.
One night, Silas and his friends brutally assault Bethan and a half-Roma friend, Martyn. As empty and hopeless as she feels from the attack, she asks Drina to bring Martyn back from death’s door. “There is always a price for this kind of magic,” Drina warns. The way to save him is gruesome. Bethan must collect grisly pieces to fuel the spell: an ear, some hair, an eye, a nose, and fingers.
She gives the boys who assaulted her a chance to come forward and apologize. And when they don’t, she knows exactly where to collect her ingredients to save Martyn.
**** Huge thank you to Delacorte Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! ****
I knew I was going to enjoy this book but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did! Even though this book handles some tough content I still thought it was a fantastic book and something I just know I’ll be recommending, however, please keep in mind the following trigger warnings since this book gets very dark and gritty:
****Trigger Warnings: Rape, Graphic Violence, Physical and Sexual Abuse, & Gore****
First I’d like to say I actually really liked the Author’s Note/Forward at the beginning of this novel explaining her Romani heritage and some background on her inspiration for this book. I thought the Romani culture included in the story was absolutely fascinating and it’s very clear it’s handled and represented well by the author.
The story follows our protagonist, Bethan, who is learning herbcraft from her Gran who is also their clan’s drabarni (dealing in witchcraft). She desperately wants her Gran to start teaching her spells and witchcraft but must be patient and so instead goes to the market to sell their “spell” bags. At the marketplace she meets a very bold, sweet boy named Martyn who quickly befriends her. However, Bethan is constantly being harassed by the chieftain’s son Silas and his cronies and on her way home, she and Martyn are attacked and brutally assaulted. Bethan is learning quickly the ugly prices they have to pay to cast spells and must collect body parts from the wicked boys in order to save her friend.
The atmosphere in this story is very dark and very gritty dealing with blood and dark witchcraft, it definitely isn’t a story for the faint of heart. It’s also a very powerful and emotional story though and I thought the rape scene was handled well as it happens off page. How Bethan deals with the aftermath is incredible she’s an extremely strong character and slowly comes to terms with what was done to her over the course of the story.
I was on an emotional roller coaster while reading through “The Hollow Girl”, the way Hillary Monahan writes it made me feel every emotion that passed through Bethan. The anger, the rage at what was done to her and Martyn but yet she still had so much hope and mercy to give as well. We go from raging on a Hell bent revenge story to something……a lot more powerful and that’s all I’ll say. Everything comes full circle in a bit of an unexpected way. So overall though I thought the writing was fantastic.
As far as the pacing goes I thought it was very fast paced and was incredibly interesting from start to finish. The beginning may be considered more slow to other readers but it’s building up the story, the characters, and Romani rep so it really isn’t dull or boring at all. The action really picks up in the middle though and there’s also a couple surprise plot twists I did not see coming whatsoever!
Overall the plot was dark, suspenseful, and just plain amazing.
There weren’t too many central characters that came into play but the ones that did were fantastic, there was a lot of complexity and development to our main characters.
Bethan, is an amazing protagonist she’s extremely strong and develops a lot through the events of the story. Probably one of the best character arcs I’ve read! I don’t want to give too much away though by going in depth, just know she is a very well done character.
Gran, the current clan’s Drabarni and who is teaching Bethan to take her place, is also a very powerful and important character. Honestly Gran was such a badass, straight up badass is the best way to describe her. There were some scenes where I had goosebumps from her powerful spell craft displays. Go Gran!
Martyn didn’t have much “screen time” but he’s an important character at the beginning and end of the story especially. I thought he was incredibly charming, sweet, and adorable he was very much the chivalrous gentleman in my opinion. So much cuteness!
As for that little toad Silas and his gang they were despicable, I WISH I could have gone into this story and whooped some ass myself! However, every character got what they had coming to them and it was very satisfying.
While there isn’t really a romance in “The Hollow Girl” there is some flirtation and attraction between Martyn and Bethan, however after her assault she doesn’t want to be touched or too close to anyone, for good reason. However, it’s implied at the end of the story that they could be together in time. They are adorable and I’d love to see them end up together eventually.
Overall an incredible story that had horror, suspense, and gore but also managed to be an incredibly emotional and powerful read.
What I Loved:
- The writing was incredible
- The Romani rep and culture was done well and was fascinating
- Loved the dark, gritty revenge aspect of the story
- Very fast paced and interesting all the way through
- Very strong protagonist and great characters all around
What I Didn’t Love:
- I honestly can’t think of anything I DIDN’T like about this story
I highly recommend checking this book out if you’re a fan of YA horror that gets dark and gritty. The addition of Romani culture and the witchcraft added to the story all the more as well. However, as I mentioned earlier please keep in mind the trigger warnings as this won’t be a book everyone can read.