"Spectacular! The Hollow keeps you reading from beginning to end without coming up for air." - L.J.Smith, bestselling author of The Vampire Diaries and Night World.
I have a knack for picking trilogies, don't I?
Miss Smith couldn't have described the reading pleasure of this book any better. I got sucked in from the first line, and I didn't want to put it down until I got to the end. (Of course, the end is not truly the end, considering this is the middleman of a trilogy).
We meet a mourning sixteen year old Abbey, taking time out from her life at Sleepy Hollow by staying with her great-aunt Marjorie on a farm. She's seeing a therapist because she thinks she's gone nuts, because see, Abbey fell in love with this hot studmuffin, Caspian, who has white-blonde hair, and who has vibrant green eyes, and who just so happens to be dead. I'm not talking vampire-dead, I'm talking ghost-dead.
Abbey doesn't know whether he's just a figment of her imagination that she had created to help her deal with the drowning of her best friend, Kristen, and in the beginning there are a few moments where the whole situation plays mindgames with you - is he real, is he in her head?! - until Abbey finally finds closure. She later on goes to visit Caspian's grave. That's when I, as the reader, fully accepted that he wasn't just some shadow that was going to disappear when her life starts getting back on track. Part of me half-expected him to do just that when she was kneeling at his grave, but nope, Caspian looks like he's there to stay for good.
The plot and subplots all blend together nicely, from Abbey getting resolution on Caspian's surreality, her awkward friendship with Ben the science-geek, accepting that her best friend had kept secrets from her that were starting to leak out, and five Revenants chasing after her signalling that her death is near. Oh. And there is of course the issue of raging teenage hormones between Abbey and her other half, Caspian her Shade.
The characters are interesting; I loved Abbey's parents and her relationship with them, and the fact that unlike most young adult books, her parents never took the backseat of 'they're-briefly-mentioned-because-they-have-to-be-mentioned' characters. They had a role to play and there was love and effort put into shaping their characters. I liked Ben - albeit he did seem like the typical cliche geek - and the detail put into the Revenants were wicked. I felt freaked out by them, but I think that's what the author was going for. I liked Aunt Marjorie, too, and Uncle Bob... actually, I don't think there is a character I didn't like.
Except for the cheerleader and Vincent. That guy gave me the creepy-crawlies.
Abbey's love for perfumes is a brilliant contribution to the story, tells more about the character, and then there's Caspian. Every time I read his name, I kept getting the tune 'Casper, the friendly ghost' going through my head. Did I ever get a kick out of it when Abbey later nicknamed him just that! I didn't get such a good feel for his character, as I saw him as this sad, lonely boy who is absolutely smitten with Abbey, but according to Abbey he suffered from moodswings. I don't get it. I could follow his track of mind and get where he was coming from when his mood changed, but those don't class as moodswings, do they? Moodswings are more of a spontaneous thing that is triggered at random for no 'apparent' reason.
To conclude my review: it was like reading a fanfiction of The Forbidden Game, post-The Kill, with a few details changed. The author's inspirations show through The Haunted very clearly, and I couldn't help but think 'JULIAN!' every time Caspian was in the limelight. But then, I'm a pathetic Julian-fangirl who sees the character in anything with white-blonde hair, so do I mind? No! The fact that Caspian's character very clearly was inspired by Julian's character, makes me love Caspian even more.
This is one of the best YA paranormal romances I've ever read, and will definitely recommend it for anyone interested in the genre. The plot, the characters, the chemistry, the visuals, all = WIN.
You can check out the author, Jessica Verday, and her other sources of inspiration for the Sleepy Hollow trilogy, on her website.