Welcome to my tour stop on Storytellers on Tour’s week-long celebration of Dan Fitzgerald’s Hollow Road. This is the first in a fantasy series exploring legend, friendship, and thrilling trials (try saying that 10 times, really fast…).
Scroll further down to read my review of this nostalgic fantasy adventure, but don’t forget to come back up to check out the other bloggers in the tour.
If you’re in the mood to gamble and want to take a shot at winning a paperback copy of the book, Dan and SOT are organizing a special giveaway for this tour (US only, ends Sep 23).
I woulnd’t miss the chance to enter, as I’m sure you won’t regret owning your own copy of Hollow Road. This is a great book to keep you company on your travels.
Keep reading to find out why.
Legends describe the Maer as savage man-beasts haunting the mountains, their bodies and faces covered with hair. Creatures of unimaginable strength, cunning, and cruelty. Bedtime stories to keep children indoors at night. Soldiers’ tales to frighten new recruits.
It is said the Maer once ruled the Silver Hills, but they have long since passed into oblivion.
This is the story of their return.
Carl, Sinnie and Finn, three companions since childhood, are tasked with bringing a friend’s body home for burial. Along the way, they find there is more to the stories than they ever imagined, and the mountains hold threats even darker than the Maer. What they discover on their journey will change the way they see the world forever.
Travel down Hollow Road to find out which legends are true, and which have been twisted.
Hollow Road takes its name from the travelled path that acts as a catalyst for the adventures within its pages.
I was absorbed by this story from the very first pages, not only because the beginning drafts the implications of an intriguing mystery, but also because it had me reminiscing about classic RPG games.
It essentially shares the atmosphere of the fantasy quest games I love to play and I could easily draw parallels between its charismatic main characters and three rpg character classes: the ranger, the magician, and the fighter.
Don’t start thinking it religiously just follows your average character classification though, because even while adhering to these classes in some way, the three main characters who are the focus of this journey shatter any restriction and easily get under your skin.
Sinnie, Finn, and Carl were my favorite things about this book, and if you’re a reader who seeks a story where the characters’ agency is the element driving the plot further, with no damage done to the plot itself (which is quite thought-provoking and raises many a great discussion), then you’ll love this one.
“In trial as in triumph, in death as in life, in famine as in feast, we are bound to one another.”
Sinnie is our daring archer, Finn enhances his magic through martial arts, and Carl, the decisive frontman of the three.
No better word than ‘charismatic’ comes to mind when I think of this trio who used to call themselves Seekers of the South during their childhood adventures (I probably fell in love with them right then and there).
They’re a cohesive group who share a past we get increasingly eager to get to know about, and something that hit extremely close to heart was how the author allowed them to freely express the part of their identity that is queer.
At no point does that fragment of themselves become the focus of their entire being, but neither is it set aside in favour of others.
I keep longing to read fantasy and science-fiction where queer characters are a casual norm, instead of a source of suffering or a box to check to appease critique, and this book hit like a cold drink in the desert.
Though guided by its wonderful cast, Hollow Road stands on its foundations as a serene adventure quest with a clear focus, and not without its mortal perils, both intimate and extrinsic.
“It might be a while, but I’ll find my way back.”
In fact, serenity and danger seem to walk hand in hand during the entirety of the book, and every horse ride takes you through ancient landscapes where creatures of legend and magic dwell, and kings of old may yet not have seen their end.
These creatures work more wonders than filling us with fear or nostalgia, they bring a fresh ingredient to what could have been a mellow meal, and boy, did I feast (*cue to my very accurate impression of Thor’s “ANOTHER”*).
This detailed lore eventually brings about a clashing of cultures that takes the reader through an exploration of the concepts of good and evil, and how incomprehension breeds fear and bloodshed.
Fast-paced enough to keep you entertained, and just slow-paced enough to let you enjoy the scenery, I’m very excited to find my own way back to this world and its people in the sequel.
Dan Fitzgerald is a fantasy writer living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When he is not writing, he might be gardening, doing yoga, cooking, or listening to French music.
Find out more about Dan and his books at http://www.danfitzwrites.com, or find him on Twitter or Instagram, with the handle danfitzwrites in both places.