*Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
It’s a soothing, strenuous sort of relaxation that clears my mind until all that’s left is sound. My feet hitting the pavement, my breathing loud in my ears, and an occasional bird. The sound of traffic is a dull hum in the background but I haven’t seen a moving vehicle the whole time I’ve been running laps. It’s getting late. The sky is bruising and the streetlights are coming on, but their light is dim.
I can smell autumn’s bite in the air. I’m too warmed up from my workout to feel it, and my hoodie is tied around my waits, its hem slapping against the back of my knees as I run.
Left-right, left-right, one-two, one-two. I focus on those numbers like I never do in math class, letting each one grow to fill my mind and push everything else out.
As I round the northwest corner of the decrepit hospital grounds a voice slips through the barrier I’ve erected around my thoughts. A very specific voice.
“Shit.” I glance one way and then the other. Sound is weird around my neighbourhood, the old hospital and its outbuildings grab noises and toss them around like finger bones in a witchdoctor’s spell.
Then I catch sight of him, him and his friends. They’ve turned the corner across the street and are walking toward me.
If you’ve gotta go down, go down fighting. That’s what my Mom used to say.
Willing myself to ignore them, I fasten my eyes on a distant light pole and keep running. My jaw is clenched so tight each step jars my teeth, and the block, which is only doubly long on this side of the hospital, has never felt so huge before. I just want to go home.
The chant begins in my brain, replacing the counting, the left-right of my feet. I want to go home. Go home. Go home.
The boys’ conversation stops and, after a brief, is replaced by whistles and cat calls. Keith, Darian and Simon are hooting and whistling like a crew of construction workers. Assholes.
“Lookin’ good, Morgan,” one of them – Darian – hollers.
I feel the heat of embarrassment flood my face and force myself not to look down. Not to let them see how much they are getting to me.
“Run, run, run,” Keith shouts. And though the words are benign, it is him saying them, and the tone he uses colours them and turns them into something dirty. Something shameful.
I should have run that day. But I didn’t. Maybe this is my penance.”
A car accident shattered sixteen-year-old Morgan’s family. Now her brother’s dead, her mom’s paralyzed in more ways than one, her dad lives at work and her seven-year-old sister Amy tries too freaking hard to salvage everything. What’s more, high school is its own special kind of hell, where her ex-boyfriend delights in spreading rumors that shred her reputation and make her feel like a loser. When she finds an old camera in a creepy abandoned hospital, it seems like her luck is finally changing. And it is changing–from bad to worse. Because of course it is. Each time Morgan photographs one of her classmates they become corrupted versions of themselves. It’s like the camera steals their goodness, their essence, and leaves them hollow.
Then her sister uses the camera to take a selfie.
No matter what the cost, Morgan will find a way to reverse the effects of the cursed camera and save Amy, before her already-fractured family completely self-destructs
A sensitive YA novel that follows a teenage girl in the aftermath of a car accident that is tearing her family apart, Hollow deals with themes of grief, sexual assault, family, and the darker side of the human psyche. For Morgan dealing with bullying and slut shaming she is looking for a way out of the difficult times she is in, trying desperately to claw her way back to normalcy and take care of her younger sister as her parents wallow in their own grief. Dealing with school life and a best friend feeling neglected, our protagonist has a lot on her plate and the heavy burden, much like the burden of a camera capable of bringing out the worst in her family and friends, Morgan proves a believable and strong protagonist that young readers can relate to.
An engaging story that shows the teenage characters in a realistic and emotional light, Hollow has achieved what it set out to do. For a YA audience this book is well-paced though more explanation could have been given for some of the more surreal scenes, however this did not detract from the overall impression of Hollow.
A short yet impactful read, Hollow leaves the reader with the hope that unfortunate circumstances can be made better by the choices we make.
About the Author –
Rhonda Parrish is driven by a desire to do All The Things. She founded and ran Niteblade Magazine, is an Assistant Editor at World Weaver Press and is the editor of several anthologies including, most recently, Earth: Giants, Golems and Gargoyles, and Grimm, Grit and Gasoline. In addition, Rhonda is an award-winning writer whose short work has been in publications such as the Rhysling Anthology and Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (2012 & 2015). Her YA Thriller, Hollow and her paranormal non-fiction title, Eerie Edmonton are both coming in 2020.
Her website, updated regularly, is at http://www.rhondaparrish.com
Read and Review –
What’s your favourite YA horror novel? Do you think YA should stay away from heavy themes such as sexual assault? Let me know down below!