Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Series #1) by A.J. Vrana

Title: The Hollow Gods
Series: The Chaos Cycle Series #1
Author: A.J. Vrana
Publisher: Parliament House
Publication Date: July 28th 2020

Print Length: 409 pages
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Magical Realism, New Adult

Isolated in the forests of Western Canada, 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 with the help of wolves, and possess them. Yet the boundary between fact and fable is blurred by a troubling statistic: every now and again, women do go missing. And after they return, they almost always end up dead.

When Kai wakes up next to the 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 and finds herself caught between a supernatural kidnapping and a senseless murder. And after the death of a young patient, crestfallen oncologist Mason embarks on a quest to debunk the town’s superstitions, only to find his sanity tested.

Yet 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?

Kai found himself standing barefoot in the woods. The faint smell of smoke wafted from somewhere nearby, voices shouting, closing in. Crimson blood soaked the mud and snow around him. Gradually, Kai realized he was surrounded by death. Animal limbs and entrails were strewn across the tainted earth. Alongside them lay mangled wolves, maimed and disfigured, the hinges of their jaws ripped open in grotesque snarls of agony. As he walked amidst the carnage, the smoke grew stronger, cinders rising to the sky as the smog thickened in his lungs.

The bloody trail led into a village. It smelled of Black Hollow, but there were no roads or cars, no buildings made of brick, and no alleyways to hide in. Houses were aflame, roofs collapsing as wood turned to ash. At the mouth of the tiny settlement was a pyre, ropes encircling a black, charred mass. It was shaped like a human, the outline of the skull still visible amidst the blaze, her mouth agape—frozen in a silent, eternal cry of terror.

A shrill call drew him back towards the red-soaked earth. A raven crawled, his wing broken and his leg writhing, towards the body of a dead child. The boy was pristine—midnight hair stark against his waxy skin, parted grey lips and glassy, lifeless eyes giving him the appearance of a porcelain doll. The raven bobbed his head as he curled his talon around the boy’s swollen fingers—that one, pearl black eye gleaming before he plunged his beak into the corpse’s abdomen, tunnelling his way inside. A satisfied rattle echoed from the scavenger’s bubbling throat as he devoured all he found, his slick form gradually disappearing as he burrowed into the hollowed cadaver.

The boy’s chest wall swelled, bulges pulsating under the flesh. His head lulled to the side, his jaw slackening with each undulating distention. The convulsions faded out, an eerie stillness following the possession before an arm jerked, a leg twitched—and finally, an aberrant gasp for air ripped through the boy. As if pulled by puppet strings, he flowed upright in one smooth motion, his hand twisting as the puppeteer grappled for control. Grasping the boy by his chin, the hand snapped the jaw back into place, teeth clamping together with a click...click...click. His neck jerked this way and that, snapping in and out of place before it grew accustomed to the new range of motion. Slowly, the head turned towards Kai, tilting to a near right angle—wide, pitch-black eyes boring into his soul.

A. J. Vrana is a Serbian-Canadian academic and writer currently residing in Toronto, Canada with her two rescue cats, Moonstone and Peanut Butter. Her doctoral research focuses on 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.

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1 comment:

  1. This book sounfds like a page turner, I can't wait to read it!