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.com
This story deals with a difficult subject – it’s mentioned in the book description and the author addresses it in the foreward – but it’s handled very well. The actual rape occurs ‘off stage’, but that didn’t make it any easier to read. Obviously, I knew it was going to happen, but kept hoping something would change – as if it could.
The first part of the story has a slower pace, but it allowed me to immerse myself in the Romani culture, learn more about it, and get to know the characters. After Bethan is assaulted, things happen very quickly. The author did a wonderful job in portraying her conflicting emotions. She understandably wants revenge – and attains it in some graphically detailed ways – but, as Drina tells her, there’s always a price, and it’s something Bethan struggles with even at the end.
Drina is quite a character – demanding, stubborn, and ill-tempered at times, but also strong, humorous, and loving in her own way. Martyn oozes goodness, sweetness, and integrity and it’s easy to see why Bethan fights to bring him back.
The Hollow Girl is a satisfying revenge tale dealing with a sensitive topic. It contains gut-wrenching emotions and some graphic violence, but I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to older YA readers. This novel is scheduled for publication October 10th, 2017.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.