Banned Review: The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

Five boys attacked her.
Now they must repay her with their blood and flesh.

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.

The Meta Details:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 272 pages
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Genre: horror, historical fiction, supernatural, vengence
Content Level: young adult
Pearl Clutching Content: I think the thing with the tooth…
Trigger Warnings: Rape, aftermath, douchebag men, and the douchebag men who protect them, the eye and teeth things
Featuring: Kale female The Punisher and Kale female the Punisher, a scarecrow (is that a theme for me lately or what?), and finally, the best farmers in the world

Recommended for: Anyone who won’t be triggered.
Rating: Must read

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I’ve been composing this review in my head for hours… looking like I was juggling invisible balls as I thought with my hands. See, the thing is, I didn’t know how to start it. I still don’t. But I read the book the day before I’d scheduled the review and goddammit I’ve missed enough deadlines lately and…

Listen, this is gonna be a hot mess.

So I have this problem… well I have many problems, actually, but specifically, I have a problem when it comes to books.

Actually, I have many problems when it comes to books, come to think of it…

Whatever, the problem I’m referring to is requesting books without reading the full description. In this case, I saw a book by a mutual on Twitter, read the bolded text “For fans of Asylum, Anna Dressed in Blood, and The Haunting of Sunshine Girl comes a new feminist horror novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Mary: The Summoning.” and requested it.

Had I read the next line, I would’ve seen: “Five boys attacked her. ”

Now, you know I will lash out at people who use rape as a cheap storytelling crutch. If you include it on the page, without warning, and callously I will flay you alive. This is because I am a survivor myself. I have many friends and family members who are survivors. This impacts my life. There are times when I cannot breathe because of it, and I never know when it’s going to strike.

Because of this, I avoid books that I know include rape as a plot point unless they are by Tiffany Reisz or someone that I trust with my sanity recommends them.

When I read about the rape in the forward, I was dumbstruck. How had I selected a book that includes rape. Off-page rape, but rape. As a major plot point. How?

Because twitter mutual, read one line.

I read the whole summary… and I considered putting the book down. But twitter mutual. Due date. Romani representation. Fuck it, I thought, I’m doing this.

(While my husband is away for another week… because I don’t understand self-care)

I’m not going to lie and tell you that the lead up didn’t make my heart race. I won’t tell you that I didn’t adore Martyn and want nothing to happen to the big doofus (even if he was pushy) or that I didn’t admire Bethan and was dreading her attack (even if she was sort of snotty and worried about propriety… cultural and age differences there.)

It was hard to read the beginning.

But it was also so fucking easy because the prose was so beautiful. It’s an exceptionally written book. The whole setup is handled with such care, with such honesty and raw emotion… it’s handled as well as Ms. Reisz handled The Bourbon Theif, and I wept as I healed along with Bethan,

Well, okay, she didn’t heal right away. She actually became this female Kale version of The Punisher along with Gran. And it was so epic, and it felt so good, and I know it says a lot about me… but fuck it quenched my bloodlust. My rage. My hatred. The monster that lives inside me scratching at my skin.

I’m getting… well not off topic, but straight into a dark place. So let’s get back to Bethan.

Bethan continues down her path, questioning if she’s making the right choices. Struggling with what was done to her and who she wants to be in the aftermath. She learns truths about herself and her people. But not just her people, all people.

And I’ve got to say, she’s a better and stronger person than I could ever hope to be.

This book was so important to me. As a maternal figure who’s not very maternal. As a survivor. As a gadjo who has always been fascinated by Romani, their way of life, and especially vardos (I spent a lot of time in a trailer as a kid… and in my mind, a vardo was just the world’s coolest RV. I was young and didn’t understand cultural appropriation.)

Beyond all that, it was just an exquisitely crafted book. On par with Tiffany Reisz and (name redacted because it turns out the author is a giant asshole), who make me bleed every goddamn time I read their books, and then have the nerve to make me thank them for it.

So thank you, Ms. Monahan. Thank you. Your book was fucking amazing and I adored it with every fiber of my being.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book by *checks list* *groans* (name redacted because it turns out the author is a giant asshole) to read.

Someone send chocolate.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.

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