Hollowthorn: A Ravenfall Novel (Ravenfall #2)

Hollowthorn: A Ravenfall Novel (Ravenfall #2)
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Release Date
October 17, 2023
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It’s been over a month since Anna Ballinkay and Colin Pierce defeated the King of the Dead on Halloween night, saving the magical Ravenfall Inn they call home. Now, with Hannukah approaching, the kids are looking forward to some peace and quiet—and maybe a little challah and peppermint cocoa, too.

But peace and quiet will have to wait, because a Raven—a guardian of the supernatural world—named Salem shows up at their doorstep with a warning. A demon from Jewish lore is hunting the Tree of Life, a source of untold power and immortality. If they can’t stop him, they risk losing the magic of Ravenfall forever.

Both Anna and Colin jump at the opportunity to prove themselves—Anna, to her eternally distracted father, and Colin, to a mentor who might finally take his own Raven powers seriously. As they venture into the Otherworld, they discover a wondrous, menacing realm full of mythological creatures… But is the true danger closer than they think?

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What worked:
The author skillfully crafts a creative story that makes readers anticipate what’s in store as events develop. Ravenfall Inn has its own personality and typically fulfills most of the roles of a typical hotel staff. However, the opening chapter finds the inn acting strangely so readers don’t know if that will become something significant. In the same way, Max, a jabberwocky usually appearing as a cat, always has a testy attitude toward certain characters so his behavior is unpredictable. However, animals in stories often sense secrets that human characters can’t. Anna’s father is typically absent from Ravenfall, off searching for magical artifacts, but he reappears in this book while his wife travels off to Ireland. Anna is eager to prove to him that she has more abilities than visions of death but she’s still learning to magically connect with inanimate objects. She’s starved for her father’s attention and becomes frustrated and angry with him.
A new character is introduced as Simon, an old, experienced Raven, who’s seeking help from Anna’s father. Colin’s only recently discovered his own abilities as a Raven so he’s excited to learn from such a talented veteran. Colin’s older brother never lets Colin do anything on his own but Salem encourages him to trust his powers and kill every magical creature they find in the Otherworld. Anna is okay with Colin learning to master his abilities but she has some reservations about some things he’s being told. Max, on the other hand, clearly doesn’t like Salem and everyone chalks it up to a grudge from the Raven stepping on Max’s tail. Salem leads the group in search of the Tree of Life but something seems off with the quest, especially once they enter the Otherworld. Colin’s internal struggle dealing with the death magic inherited from his father adds another uncertain element to the story.
The Jewish religion is a big part of the story but it’s not overdone so much that it becomes a distraction. The setting is around the time of Hannukah but Anna notes that she uses it to keep track of time and not necessarily a celebration of the holiday. She also realizes she’s growing up Jewish but doesn’t really understand what it’s all about. Her father makes a connection between Hebrew letters and numbers and Anna hopes her father will teach her more about the Hebrew alphabet once their adventure ends. Jewish demons, gods, and bible references are part of the plot, and protecting the Tree of Life is the goal of Anna and Colin’s quest. A Hebrew prayer plays an important role at a critical moment in the plot.
What didn’t work as well:
The story is told from two points of view which isn’t typically a problem. For some reason in this book, I need to remind myself when Anna or Colin is narrating a particular chapter. It’s not a big issue and it lessened as the plot move along. Periodic chapters share concerns from Ravenfall and it’s nice to be reminded the inn is still part of the story.
The Final Verdict:
You might be able to read this book on its own but I recommend reading Ravenfall first. It will be especially helpful in understanding Colin’s turmoil. This book takes readers on an exciting adventure to the Otherworld and they’ll sense an underlying problem that’s waiting to explode. Overall, this book and series are quite entertaining and I recommend you give them a shot.
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