Thursday, October 19, 2017

Book Review: The Hollow Girl

Title: The Hollow Girl
Author: Hillary Monahan
Genre: Young Adult | Horror
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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 (goodreads)

I was expecting a bit more from Hillary Monahan. 
Plot: I was hesitant about this book because of the mention of brutal assault, but because I adored MARY: The Summoning I decided to give it a go. Before diving into the book, I read the author's note which was about Hilary's Romani grandmother and Hilary's journey to discover her heritage. It was clear that this was Hilary's love letter to her Romani culture, but it felt as though The Hollow Girl was more to educate people about Romani beliefs and terminology rather than a story. 

As the synopsis mentioned, the main character, Bethan, is raped by a group of neighborhood boys who are basically "untouchables". Knowing that I was preparing myself for that moment as rape is a hard topic for me to read. Monahan dropped many not-so-subtle hints about the impending assaults and it definitely upped the tension. After the incident, Betham and her adoptive mother, Drina, found a spell that required Bethan to explore her dark side. I can't say that there was anything spooky about this book, there were some gruesome moments but nothing like in MARY: The Summoning. There was also no time spent on the emotional effects of the horrific assault that Betan experienced, she literally went right into planning revenge. 

Like I said, this felt more like an opportunity for the author the explore Romani way of life than telling a story, and while I was interested in learning more about Monahan's culture, it felt like all of the terms, traditions, and lifestyle aspects were info dumps. 

Characters: Because this was a relatively short book, there weren't a lot of opportunities to get inside the heads of characters. It was interesting to read all of the casual sexism and double standards that existed, but nothing to make me feel like I understood the characters. Martyn was the young love interest of Betham but because their budding relationship had only lasted a number of days, it was unbelievable that she would feel so attached to him. 

Worldbuilding: The Hollow Girl took place in Wales, I believe it was present day but there weren't a lot of physical descriptions. Most of the action took place in Bethan's wagon and the local market; there were many missed opportunities to truly flesh out the world. 

Short N Sweet: The Hollow Girl was an obvious love letter to Romani culture and lacked the creepy atmosphere I had been expecting. 


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