Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 / 5 stars)
A soldier, a mage, and a circus archer are sent to deliver the body of their best friend for burial, but discover so-called monsters of legend along Hollow Road as they head back home. Does it sound like a joke? Well, that is exactly the fate of Carl, Finn, and Sinnie as they deliver their old friends’ Theo body back home for burial. When they encounter the Maer, creatures of legend that are said to be ruthless and bloodthirsty, they soon uncover that the Maer are more than they seem. But what destiny awaits them as they return to the Maer’s home? And will they come out alive?
A fast paced adventure fantasy, we are taken on an exciting journey to learn about the Maer and other creatures that live Gheil. Dan Fitzgerald does a wonderful job keeping the pace going, introducing us to the main trio through their talents and perspectives. With them, we meet the Maer, a supposedly terrible group of monsters. But, Carl, Finn, and Sinnie soon learn, the Maer are far more human that they were led to believe.
This novel takes traditional fantasy elements, filled with monsters and legends, and shows us how not everything is as it seems. The Maer just want to be treated as equals to humans, their magic, infrastructure, and hierarchy similar to those in the North. Hollow Road is more than just about destroying monsters, but also about tossing aside preconceived notions, and accepting those who look just a little different.
Fitzgerald also make an applaudable point in using LGBTQ+ representation: Sinnie is asexual, Finn is attracted to men, and Carl finds his own preferences changing. We need more representation like that in fantasy; while perhaps Hollow Road is nothing too unique in its storyline (using tropes that are successful in their own right), adding these type of characters really make the story shine.
I do wish we had some more time to get to know the main trio: I would have loved to see Finn in study, Sinnie as a circus performer, and Carl as a soldier before venturing off to return Theo’s body. I would have liked to see interactions as well, especially among Sinnie and the Maer, rather than being told that they had happened. In addition, questions remain as well: how did Theo die? What is happening in the backdrop of government? I guess that’s all for the sequel.
I was pleasantly surprised by Hollow Road. While the first chronicle in the Maer cycle came to a satisfying conclusion, there is much more I want to know, and I have full intentions of picking up the sequel in the future.
What’s it about?
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