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The Hollow Heart by Marie Rutkoski – Book Review!

At the end of The Midnight Lie, Nirrim offered up her heart to the God of Thieves in order to restore her people’s memories of their city’s history. The Half Kith who once lived imprisoned behind the city’s wall now realize that many among them are powerful. Meanwhile, the person Nirrim once loved most, Sid, has returned to her home country of Herran, where she must navigate the politics of being a rogue princess who has finally agreed to do her duty.

In the Herrani court, rumors begin to grow of a new threat rising across the sea, of magic unleashed on the world, and of a cruel, black-haired queen who can push false memories into your mind, so that you believe your dearest friends to be your enemies.

Sid doesn’t know that this queen is Nirrim, who seeks her revenge against a world that has wronged her. Can Sid save Nirrim from herself? Does Nirrim even want to be saved? As blood is shed and war begins, Sid and Nirrim find that it might not matter what they want…for the gods have their own plans.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s no lie when I say this was one of my most anticipated sequels of 2021, which is why it hurts me so much to say that it just didn’t live up to my expectations in any way.

The story picks up directly from the end of The Midnight Lie, In Herrath Nirrim has sold her heart to the God of Thieves to free her people from a lifetime of lies. She solidifies her rule by ensuring the people’s loyalty through fear rather than love, her lack of compassion is turning her into a ruthless ruler, unable to accept that what she is doing may be wrong. In Herran, Sid has travelled home after hearing the news that her mother was gravely ill only to find out she was being poisoned, she decides to stay and play investigator for her mother, but her heart lies somewhere else, with a person who is changing day by day.

Character wise, neither Sid nor Nirrim really grew on me in this book. Nirrim would have made a fantastic ruler, but her lack of compassion means she makes rash and sometimes unwise decisions. I did enjoy seeing her inner battle, the new Nirrim warring with the old, and while I’m all for a woman in vengeance mode, some of her actions just seemed a little over the top, and frankly a little shocking in parts. On the flip side we have Sid, while in Herran we get to see her relationships with her parents, as well as other members of the family. Though this did give us a greater understanding of her as a character, of her decision to run away in book one, I did feel like we were getting introduced to new characters a little late in the game, and her story line became more about her parents, their failures, than actually about Sid herself. Maybe if I had read the Winners Curse series it would have made a bit more sense, but it almost seemed as though I was reading two separate books at times.

We did get the introduction of another POV in this book and that, in my opinion, added more to the story than Sid’s. Through it we learn more about the Gods, as well as more about Nirrim, her parents and how her power is so much stronger than others.

As I said before, Sid’s chapters didn’t really add anything to the overall plot. It did make me feel like I was reading two separate stories and made my reading experience extremely disjointed. When Sid and Nirrim eventually did meet back up it, was far too late in the story and made the ending feel incredibly rushed. There seemed to be this massive build up and I was left feeling underwhelmed. I didn’t feel overly emotional at their reunion, in fact I felt very few emotions at all when reading this book, the main characters were separated for far too long, and the romance that they built in book one had withered to almost nothing.

Rutkoski’s writing style was equally as lush in this as the first book and I do think that’s what saved it from being a DNF for me. The one thing I did enjoy about Sid’s story was that it gave us the chance to travel a little more of the world, as well as learning a little about the history and politics, something that was missing in book one. Overall, this was a let down for me. I do feel like, with Sid going off on her own adventure, this would have made more sense as a trilogy as the ending would have been significantly less rushed and we would have had more time to rebuild the relationship between Sid and Nirrim. 2.5 Stars.

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8 replies »

  1. Oh no!! It’s always sad when a book doesn’t live up to your expectations, but even worse when it is one that you had anticipated so much. I’m so sorry that this wasn’t what you wanted it to be – but fantastic review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think i enjoyed this book more than the first one because of the reference to the original trilogy. I can say for 100% that you’d enjoyed it more if you read Arin’s and Kestrel’s story. And Sid’s behavior would make much more sense as well. But i agree about Nirrim, i liked her more in book one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea, from what I’ve read of other reviews it seems like the ones who read the previous series enjoyed this more. I guess it just threw me a little with having little to no reference to it in the first book, to having a rather large portion of the second focused on it. I’ll definitely be picking up Winners Curse though cause I’d enjoy finding out more about their story.

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