The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
TW: Rape, harrassement, physical and sexual assault, murder, blood, graphic violence, gore
This book follows a Romani's girl, who is the apprentice of the village's powerful witch and healer, Drina. After having some harrowing experiences of harassment by the chief's son Silas, whilst being en route to the marketplace to sell her potions. At the stall next to her, she meets a golden-haired boy who is an outsider to her culture,
When on perilous night, as foretold by an intense vision from Drina, Silas and his group of croonies assaults Bethan and leaves Martyn for dead, the plot turns into a revenge story whilst trying to save the person that she cares about. I would describe this as a dark and gritty horror, so if this is not your type of book, know that going into it. For me, I read for those delicious witchy parts where I felt like I could be rubbing my hands with glee and truly enjoying the story.
Our main character, Bethan was extremely compelling and I really liked how the author explored and played the good vs evil forces within her, how she was portrayed as almost a sort of morally ambiguous character. I felt like I could feel for her, feel with her. This was probably due to the descriptive writing that Monahan was able to pull off, It's extremely atmospheric, and it paints the creepy nighttime vibe onto every page where that was necessary,
I thought that this handled the topic of rape and Romani heritage very well(as it was ownvoices and treated with sensitivity and nuance). Rape was treated like a mortal sin throughout the book, and every one of the participants got severe consequences for their actions. Bethan was never blamed by anyone other than the rapists themselves, and any notion of victim-blaming was shut down firmly by her grandmother. Also in the author's forward, there was a warning that there would be a rape scene, off-camera and not graphic, however it just made me think about how every book should have trigger warnings t the beginning. That's just the way that it should be done.
My one complaint was that the pacing of this book seemed off. There was so much anticipation that was built up to the climax scene, but the first one hundred or so pages has explanations and info=dumps within conversations that Bethan was having. For me, at least, this would have been a five star read, as it was much enjoyable as it could be with the content that it presented.
**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**
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