Title: The Hollow Girl
Author: Hillary Monahan
Genre: Young Adult, Teen, Horror
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Where do I even start?
This book is set at an indeterminate time... maybe in the late 1800's? Our lead gal is being raised by her gypsy caravan's 'witch'. The lady that everyone goes to for healing, charms, etc. At first we are not sure that any magic is real; that quickly changes. I'm going to use the common words for gypsy, herbal woman/witch, and what not. The book uses (what I assume) are the correct words to describe these groups but let's face it you won't know these words if I use them. So for simplicity sake I'll be generic below.
Horror that isn't horror
If gruesome, gross and immorale is what you think defines a horror YA book then perhaps The Hollow Girl is for you. For me the only thing scary about this book was that it was: A) making excuses for why it's morale and okay (in some ways) to act on vengeance and take revenge; B) how bad the writing was.
A good horror book, like a good sword wielding fantasy story will have elements of gore in it; but there is a lot more to the story in that. It should give build slowly, give you shivers at times and make you question the thoughts and beliefs of the main character. And likely have empathy for some of the characters involved (because it's not their fault).
And yes horrific things happen in The Hollow Girl such as rape, murder, torture, lose of appendages, etc. But none of these events are what I found to be the hardest to accept. Instead I cannot believe that anyone would think it appropriate to torture, murder and maim others in order to save one person.
There are very few situations in which I am convinced that someone deserves to be physically punished. Now that's not to say that the occasional smack to a small child is wrong. I believe that at certain moments and levels that can be an appropriate parental response. BUT you would always react in an appropriate way and not out of a spiteful revenge filled place. Too bad our lead gal isn't taught this lesson. Instead she is taught the dark magic of her people by the existing herbal doctor she lives and grew up with.
It doesn't really bother me that our lead gal wants vengeance but it does bother me that she enacts her revenge on five of her peers (boys) at the consistent encouragement from the herbal doctor she calls grandmother. I don't want to teach children to be like Stephen King's Carrie and that getting revenge is the right course of action.
If we all took an eye for an eye each time we were wronged then we would be a society of blind people.
Between the unnecessary blood and gore, questionable moral compass and the attempt (with the authors note at the beginning of the book) to make readers feel compassionate towards the story without even starting it; I just can't give The Hollow Girl anything more than 2 stars. I only finished it because I was very close to the end (less than 50 pages) and wanted to see if there was some resolution of the morale issues. I was sorely disappointed.
I would not recommend this book to any one. Even a half-smart teen would see through the typical 'gore' tropes quickly and find it over the top and morally questionable. I love anti-heros and characters you love to hate; but here we are shown a lovely girl that is turned evil in a very unproductive way. I would not recommend this book to any one. Even a half-smart teen would see through the typical 'gore' tropes quickly and find it over the top and morally questionable. I love anti-heros and characters we love to hate; but here we are shown a lovely girl that is turned evil in a very unproductive way.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.