Sign of Seven Trilogy

Blood Brothers

The Hollow
by Nora Roberts
(Jove, 7.99, PG-13)  ISBN 978-0515144598
An acceptable second in the “Sign of Seven trilogy,” The Hollow, despite the fact that is has the same colorful array of characters and exudes the same charisma, lacks the luster of Blood Brothers.  Roberts, as usual, shines with her romantic, platonic, and familial relationships, but The Hollow is missing the spine-tingling fun of the first in the series.

The Hollow picks just a few months after Blood Brothers leaves off; Hawkins Hollow is in the swing of spring now, that dreaded week in July getting closer and closer.  The six people who are destined to try to stop the demon haunting Hawkins Hollow - Cal and Quinn, Layla, Fox, Gage, and Cybil - are suffering more frequent nightmares, but the demon himself is putting in fewer appearances as he stores up energy for bigger shows; Blood Brothers was fraught with them, and they gave the book a great horror story feel.  The men have three pieces of a bloodstone that the group has discovered was part of a large power-laden stone belonging to their ancestor, Giles Dent, and those that came before him.  This book has two main goals: to reunite the pieces of the stone, and to locate the missing diaries of Dent's wife.

They do accomplish this together, but it is the three romantic-or-heading-that-way relationships that dominate this story, primarily Fox and Layla.  Fox is a fabulous character, and Layla finally gets meatier toward the middle of this book, although she's no match for him.  To be fair, the O'Dell family is just as much fun as Fox himself. However, this book lacks the action and the impact of its predecessor.  It does still leave the reader salivating over Gage and just dying to read about him and Cybil, but shouldn't Fox and Layla's story mostly make you excited about them?

One thing I do love about Roberts' trilogies is the development through the three books of the existing friendships in addition to the new ones.  In The Hollow the ties between Fox, Gage, and Cal become clearer and deeper through the occasional fun little anecdote, and the bond between the three women grows into something fuller.

Suffice it to say the book is definitely worth reading, even if it doesn't live up to Blood Brothers or Nora Roberts' full potential.  It will leave the reader groaning in anticipation of The Pagan Stone, due out in the winter.  And if Fox and Layla aren't as fascinating as the other four, who cares?  He's still a sexy character, she's an interesting woman finding her footing, and you can't read just two books out of a trilogy; it's just not right.

--Sarrah Knight

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