Title: All the Inside Howling
Series: Hollow Folk: Book Two
Author: Gregory Ashe
Length: 338 Pages
Category: Teen Fiction, Paranormal, Murder Mystery
At a Glance: This book is a feast of shocking and inspired storytelling moments. It’s been a long time since I have read a book that messed with my emotions so effectively.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Vie Eliot has survived a new high school, an abusive father, and the murderous Mr. Big Empty. Now, as Vie searches for Mr. Big Empty, he also finds himself facing an unexpected complication: how to be a good boyfriend.
When a mysterious drifter named River disappears, though, Vie finds himself dragged into finding the missing boy. Vie’s psychic abilities have proved useful in the past, and once again they set him on the trail of a gruesome murderer.
But the pattern of killings seems to make no sense, and as Vie tries to stop the murderer, he learns that the people he loves most are in terrible danger.
And the killings may be much more personal than Vie has suspected.
Review: “Who are you, Vie Eliot, and why do you know things that other people don’t?”
When Vie Eliot introduced himself in Mr. Big Empty, it was clear he wasn’t going to be an average anything—an average teenager, an average narrator, an average psychic amateur sleuth. Vie is one of the most challenged and challenging teen protagonists I’ve ever read, and if I didn’t love him before, I do now, without question, and nothing, not a word I write from here on, will even begin to scratch the surface of how much I love this book.
Based on this and his Hazard and Somerset series, I’m going out on a limb and declaring that author Gregory Ashe is a fan of the long arc, which means I don’t recommend this book being read as a standalone. The question of what—or even how—Mr. Big Empty is, not to mention why he is fixated on Vie, is escalating through each book, and this author also excels at ‘The Hook’. Whether it’s the final sentence in a chapter or the next explosive plot revelation, Ashe seems to have a knack for ensuring that I won’t put a book down unless I absolutely am forced to, or I fall dead asleep, whichever comes first. All the Inside Howling is filled from start to finish with those sweet temptations, and each of them is excellent…outstanding…sublime in a way that often left me muttering, “Oh my god,” at my kindle, too many times to enumerate. This book is a feast of shocking and inspired storytelling moments. It’s been a long time since I have read a book that messed with my emotions so effectively.
Vehpese (which was Huecos in book one?), Wyoming, hasn’t provided the respite from his mother’s abuse ‘the system’ hoped it would when Vie was removed from her home in Oklahoma, in possession of nothing more than a few changes of clothes and the scars he bears. Vie was shipped off to live with his father in Vahpese, but the change of location has done little more than varied the form of abuse he suffers. The boy just can’t seem to escape a beating, no matter where he lands. He’s only been in Vehpese for a few months, and already so much has happened to him—not the least of which includes the realization that death seems to be hounding his every footstep, thanks in large part to his psychic abilities, but he also gets in no small amount of trouble for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now there’s been another murder, one that will ultimately tip Vie’s entire world sideways and leave him staggering from the immense danger inherent in Mr. Big Empty’s very presence.
And the shocking revelation at the end of this book… It’s more than a roller coaster ride. This book is a free-fall from thirty thousand feet.
Vie is such a steady and predictable (no negative connotations there) character; he’s tenacious and strong and brave, and yet, he is a dichotomy too. In so many ways he behaves and responds precisely the way I expect him to when he’s overwhelmed, when he’s angry, when he’s frightened, when someone ventures too far out of his verbal and/or emotional comfort zone. Vie Eliot is a champion at burying his feelings, he has secrets he holds close to the vest—secrets that he believes make him worthless, unlovable and unworthy of anything good in his life—and he often acts out, sometimes with his fists, sometimes in self-harm, because of it. But the dichotomy here is that he acts out against everyone but the one person whose abuse he is willing to suffer, and that’s where the contradiction that is this boy lies. The one person Vie has needed to stand up to, and could stand up to, is the one person who hurts Vie time and time again, and in return, it hurts readers to understand why he doesn’t fight back. It’s the lie of abuse. Until, one time, Vie is finally pushed too far. He’s such a great character, and he’s trying, trying as hard as a sixteen-year-old boy can, to grow and learn from his mistakes and to be a good boyfriend while fighting against something intangible and yet still tangibly dangerous. He just needs to live long enough to keep fighting, but there are people—things—that don’t want to see him make it that far.
All the Inside Howling is an exceptional addition to a spectacular series. It’s one of those books that makes me want to reevaluate every book I’ve ever said I loved, because they pale in my memory in comparison to the immediate and obsessive love I’m feeling right now for this series. This is more than Teen Fiction, it’s more than Murder Mystery, it’s more than Paranormal fiction. It’s the sum of all three of these things wrapped around one of the most intriguing young protagonists I’ve come across in a long time—if ever. One of the things that became clear in reference to my feeling that these characters read older than they are, is that this story is being told by an older Vie, something that was not evident in book one but is revealed when Vie narrates, “His lips moved, and I thought maybe it was a smile, or maybe it was a word, and years later, when I would think about it long past midnight, I would think maybe it had been nothing at all.” Whether this was a deliberate revelation or a continuity slip, I don’t know, but it would explain why the characters are a lot more sophisticated than I give most sixteen-year-olds credit for being, so I’m satisfied with that.
Ashe’s writing is pure engaging, the pacing frenetic, and his dialogue spot-on in revealing both the characters and the story. I don’t see how this book doesn’t go down as one of my favorite reads of the year.
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