By: A.J. Vrana
Publisher: The Parliament House
WARNING: There will be spoilers for The Hollow Gods
“Don’t be afraid.” It was her again. Miya thought she would have gone by now,
but even after 3 years, the ghost of her past clung to her like a shadow.” A.J. Vrana, The Echoed Realm
When I wrote the review for The Hollow Gods, there was so much I wanted to write. I felt, however, that I did not want to give away too much important information. There was so much packed into the book at every turn, I did not want to spoil the book for others, and write only spoiler-free reviews. This brings us to The Echoed Realm. If you have not read The Hollow Gods, be warned, there are spoilers for the first book.
The Echoed Realm leaps right back into the adventures of Miya and Kai 3 years after the events of The Hollow Gods. Ms. Vrana has written the perfect sequel to this story. It was part fantasy, horror and mystery, interwoven perfectly. The action starts from the first page, as Miya and Kai have become demon hunters. As the story is revealed, we follow Miya, Kai and Mason in the present, but to unravel what happened in Black Hollow, they need to know its dark past. Only then can they find out who they truly are and how they are connected. Where did the Dreamwalker come from? Who is she? How is she tied to the wolf? In many ways I found this book to be both a sequel and a prequel. The pacing and prose of the book was excellent. Chapters focus not only on different characters, but through dreams, the horrible history of Black Hollow. These dreams reveal all the secrets the town has long tried to bury. It is at times gritty and heartbreaking. The writing of the story in this manner was perfect, which is why I say it is both sequel and prequel. At no time was it confusing to have the story told from the viewpoints of Miya, Kai, Mason and the Dreamwalker, who reveals the past. Quite the opposite. It keeps the reader on edge to find out more about what has happened, and how Miya and Kai are bound.
Having read The Hollow Gods, we know that Kai is a werewolf and Miya can travel between the world of dreams and reality. She, Kai and Mason have survived the fire set at the end of the story. We know the town, along with Miya’s father, went just a little berserk when they could not find her and set out to destroy the them all. Mason wakes up in the hospital, Miya and Kai have disappeared. They left behind Crazy Hollow, I mean Black Hollow. However, Kai somehow became tethered to Miya while she was in the dream realm. He is with Mia in their “idyllic” dream world, yet they come to the real world, though he cannot lose his connection to her or he could die. Ama, who was also in The Hollow Gods, is the white wolf. She is essential to Mia as she serves as her “lifeline” to the real world when Mia must venture deep into the dream world. We follow Mia and Kai to New Orleans. Mason once again becomes involved as Mia’s parents contact him to find her. The Echoed realm perfectly completes the story of our protagonists.
Summary (from NetGalley)
Miya’s world ended in Black Hollow.
It’s been three years since the Dreamwalker upended her life and left her with a heavy burden. A fledgling to the ethereal realm, Miya stumbles into the nightmares of those haunted by spectres. Little does she know, one of them is coming for her, clutching a dark secret abreast.
Kai has found a new purpose with his companion, but the price is his freedom. Bound and beholden to Miya, he struggles to adjust to his new role as her vanguard.
Meanwhile, Mason discovers he may be a pawn trapped in a web of schemes. Was his time in Black Hollow an accident, or was it only the beginning of some greater machination?
As Black Hollow’s bloody stain spreads beyond its wooded borders, Miya fights to evade a past she barely understands. The Dreamwalker’s legacy is a vise grip, and it isn’t letting go. Primordial horrors draw near, fables come alive, and long-buried histories rise from the grave, ready to hunt.
Sharpen your claws and bloody your teeth. There’s fear to be sown.
While the characters are the same, they have grown since The Hollow Gods. Miya is still a strong female protagonist. She takes on her role travelling between the dream realm and real-world head on, and is fearless as she does. She has no desire to contact her parents and tell them she alive. Who can blame her after her father nearly tried to kill her? Miya desperately wants to find out her own connection to the Dreamwalker.
Kai is not as angry as he was, though he is fiercely protective of Miya. He does struggle with being tethered to her in the real world. While he loves her, Kai is also very independent. Not being able to always have her consciousness near him, is restrictive. In The Hollow Gods, the reader knows he was possessed with the Apogee, which caused much of his anger. Now free of it, what will Kai do to protect Mia from the Dreamwalker and in doing so, find out his destiny.
Mason Evans has gained a new confidence in his role as an oncologist. He does not know where Kai and Mia are, but since their bodies were never found, he thinks they might be alive. As we follow Mia and Kai to New Orleans, Mason once again becomes involved as Mia’s parents contact him to find her. While he agrees to help Mia’s parents find her whereabouts, there is something he feels is “off” about them. He continually reminds them that if she is alive, she is an adult and can do as she chooses, which includes not contacting them.
It’s important to have characters grow in a series. They don’t stagnate, but complete their story arcs as the duology comes to a close.
Pacing and Prose
The pacing of this book was excellent. The unraveling of the history of Black Hollow is strong point in the book. The dream sequences paint a vivid picture of Black Hollow’s past and the events that occurred. It is extremely well-done. As with The Hollow Gods, it is never rushed, nor does it lag. Once again, I thought the perspective of the chapters of from each character was absorbing. This was a strong point in the telling of the both books.
The pacing was excellent. The book starts out right away 3 years later, with a confident Miya, along with Kai, vanquishing a demon. The story always keeps the reader on edge, and I feel that is mainly due to the different perspectives of Miya, Kai, Mason and the dream sequences. As mentioned, in the telling of the history was a little brutal, and at times heartbreaking. It all equally advances the plot, and all is revealed.
The Chaos Cycle is an amazing and excellent debut duology by A.J. Vrana. Both books are unique and compelling. The incorporation of fantasy and horror was a perfect mix of the two genres, creating a page turning story of The Echoed Realm, as it did with Black Hollow. The characters have grown in the 3 years between the times of the book. The reader is introduced to the history of Black Hollow since its inception. Through dreams and the Dreamwalker, the story of how it came to be this horrific town is revealed. It was very well written, and I enjoyed reading as the mystery unraveled. There were many surprises, twists and turns that I did not see coming. All the secrets are discovered, and I encourage you to read and find out what they are. You will not be disappointed. Overall, both The Hollow Gods and The Echoed Realm were excellent reads, and I would highly recommend it to fans of fantasy, horror and mystery as well.
Find out more about A.J. Vrana on her website at https://thechaoscycle.com/
You can order the book on Amazon or on the author’s website
My thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an eBook in exchange for an honest review.Follow Me on Social Media