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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

A horrific crime that defies explanation, a rookie FBI agent in uncharted territory, and an extraordinary hero for the ages: an investigation spirals out of control in this heart-pounding thriller. Odessa Hardwicke's life is derailed when she's forced to turn her gun on her partner, Walt Leppo, a decorated FBI agent who turns suddenly, inexplicably violent while apprehending a rampaging murderer. The shooting, justified by self-defense, shakes the young FBI agent to her core. Devastated, Odessa is placed on desk leave pending a full investigation. But what most troubles Odessa isn't the tragedy itself -- it's the shadowy presence she thought she saw fleeing the deceased agent's body after his death. Questioning her future with the FBI and her sanity, Hardwicke accepts a low-level assignment to clear out the belongings of a retired agent in the New York office. What she finds there will put her on the trail of a mysterious figure named Hugo Blackwood, a man of enormous means wh…

The Hollow Ones

by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan

Overall Book Review:

The Hollow Ones is the first in a modern fantasy series called The Blackwood Tapes by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The novel serves as an introduction to the world of FBI Agent Odessa Hardwicke and her enigmatic new acquaintance, Hugo Blackwood. The Hollow Ones combines the masterful fantasy storytelling that readers have come to expect from del Toro and the insidiously creepy ambience that drew enthusiasts to Hogan and del Toro’s previous collaboration, The Strain. These skilled writers have delivered the beginnings of another series that is sure to please. The characters in this novel are multifaceted with noble qualities and flaws that make them realistic. The plot is mysterious and has interesting ripples without becoming convoluted or confusing. While the story is purely imaginative, it wrestles with some very real social and moral issues, most prominently racial discrimination, and it tackles these issues skillfully without devolving into preachiness or sacrificing engaging storytelling or robust characterization. The only regret after reading this book is that the next one is not available yet.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  15 religious exclamations; 22 mild obscenities; 5 religious profanities; 5 derogatory names; 28 scatological words; 2 anatomical terms; 2 f-word derivatives.

Note:  The word “Negro” is used in a historical context 5 times (not tallied).

Violence/Gore:  Acharacter threatens another with a gun; a character is threatened by a vicious animal; a few reports of mass murders; a few reports of lynchings; report of blood and bones used in a magical ritual; report of a murder; characters examine a dead body; gunfire is heard, implying that a person was shot; a character shoots at others; a fight with no major injury; a fight between humans and animals in which an animal is killed; a few creepy scenes involving monsters; a man shoots and bludgeons others to death; a fight with characters and a monster in which an adult kills a child; a fatal car wreck; a character jumps to their death; a shootout in which people are injured and killed;an extended scene (7 pages) in which characters are killed by gunfire and knives with bloody description given; a gory scene in which people, including an infant, are killed using knives and blunt trauma; a fight in which people are killed or wounded, with one being stabbed in the head.

Sex/Nudity:  Characters hug and kiss a few times;a joke about being naked at the hospital (not sexual); a few mentions of things such as a “gentleman’s club”, strip club, and “sex dungeon”; a store sells candles shaped like genitalia; a character has a tattoo featuring naked people; the word “orgasm” is used in a metaphor about something not sexual;characters kiss and it’s implied that sex follows; a rumor about an extramarital affair.

Mature Subject Matter:

Lynching (reported); mass shooting (reported); murder; serial killing; political corruption (reported); racism; segregation; death (spouse, friend, parent, sibling, child); stillbirth (report); terminal illness; slavery (mention); grave robbing (reported); suicide; arson; hostage situation.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Report of someone driving under the influence; adults smoke tobacco; adults drink alcohol; adults use unspecified illegal drugs; mention of drug-dealing.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My taste in literature leans heavily towards sci-fi, fantasy, and (my favorite) horror, and the latter can present some fairly murky waters for parents to let their children explore. I enjoy novels of both the standard and graphic varieties. Since those genres, and graphic novels in particular, tend to appeal to boys, I hope that I can help other Boy Mommies in their quest to find books that their little video gamers--I mean, future bibliophiles will read and enjoy. When I am not reading, I enjoy tabletop role-playing games, video games, and singing karaoke. I have a wonderful husband who lets me indulge my reading habit by sharing the housework and being a great dad to our genius kids and their faithful hound.