Monday, January 18, 2010

Review: YA Fantasy Intriguing and Suspense!

The Hollow

By Jessica Verday
Simon Pulse
ISBN: 9781416978930
515 Pages

What an intriguing story! Based on the title, I assumed The Hollow by Jessica Verday was going to have some relationship to Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It is so much more!

First, even though this is marked YA, fantasy and romance readers will also enjoy it, just as I did. The book kept me in suspense from early in the book and when it somewhat abruptly ended--too soon--I was immediately grateful that there was going to be more!

Several special points should be highlighted immediately. At the beginning of each chapter, there is a quote by Irving. Additionally, the book is set in the town where the Legend was born and so there is a constant flow of information and discussion about the characters in that book. Additionally, the book itself has been beautifully covered and printed. This is a book you'll want to keep as part of your home library! I'm hoping that this is a first in a series that just could be as popular as that set of books coming out of England, but this one featuring one of America's most memorable legends.

The story opens with a sad event--Abbey's best friend, Kristen, has disappeared and is presumed dead. In fact, they decide to proceed with a funeral for Kristen, burying an empty coffin. Abbey refuses to accept her death, and more, she can't figure out why Kristen had been out alone, on the bridge where she apparently fell. Both girls had agreed that they would never go there alone!

Abbey and Kristen had been so close that they didn't have many other friends, so it is hard for Abbey to go back to school, especially when some of the students feel she is "playing" her grief to get favor from the teachers. Abbey goes from deep heartache to anger and back to grief constantly so that her parents begin to worry about her. Abbey spends many hours wandering on her own, visiting the graveyard across the street and all the other places she and Kristen had once routinely visited. It was there she met Nikolas, an elderly "grandfather" taking care of Irving's mausoleum and she offered to help him. Later she met this wife Katie in a beautiful little cabin just on the other side of the cemetery from where she lived.

She had met Caspian at Kristin's home during the funeral. She had retreated to the basement where she and Kristan had often gone to be alone and there, in the shadows, Caspian spoke to her. Later they met under the bridge and once in the library. They had never gone on a date but Abbey's feelings for him grew deeper.

Abby also suddenly got a part-time job with her Uncle Bob, who owned an ice-cream parlor where she could have all of the samples she wanted. With new friends, school, work, and trying to create new perfumes, she was little by little able to move on with her life. Until she found Kristen's diaries and discovered she'd had a secret life she'd never shared with Abbey!

This is one of the most beautiful stories I've read. Touches of fantasy, the paranormal, true friendship, and family love are heartwarmingly shared in a story that truly compliments the work of Washington Irving and in some ways surpasses it...

Highly recommended for those 12 and older! Fans of Ghost Whisperer? A Must-READ!

G. A. Bixler

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