The Hollow Girl
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.
Powerful story of family, trauma, and magic
Content Warning: As the author mentions in the forward, there is sexual assault in this book.
Disclaimer: I do not identify as Romani, so I cannot speak on the representation of the Romani culture. The author is Romani #ownvoices and has a wonderful note on the making and inspiration of THE HOLLOW GIRL.
In a clan of Welsh Romanies, Bethan loves being the apprentice to Drina, her Gran, though she wouldn’t mind if they could move on from the herbcraft and go to spells. The two make a small, happy family, but there is one upset in Bethan’s life: the continual harassment from Silas, son of the chieftain. One dark night, Bethan and her friend, Martyn, are viscously assaulted by Silas and his group. With Martyn left on the edge of death, Bethan and her Gran prepare for a spell that will bring him back…for a price.
Hillary Monahan’s THE HOLLOW GIRL is a powerhouse of emotion, darkness, family, and magic. Each line rings with a strong voice that first gently draws you in, then fiercely grabs your attention and doesn’t let go, commanding it long after the last page is (bittersweetly) turned. Bethan is an incredibly nuanced protagonist whose journey wrecks emotions in more ways than one. Here is the kind of story where you find yourself laughing and crying alongside the characters and begging, begging, begging they find as much peace and happiness as possible because they feel as dear as family within a handful of chapters.
The central themes of THE HOLLOW GIRL are crucial and moving. Bethan and Drina prove the size of a family is no equivalent to the amount of love in a family. The effects of trauma are different for everyone, and Bethan’s journey presents a much needed discussion about rape culture.
THE HOLLOW GIRL is a force that leaves words hard to find. Important on so many levels, brimming with stunning narration, and full of heart, this is not a novel to miss.