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Forgotten Gods #2

The Hollow Heart

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Intrigue, romance, and magic abound in the heart-stopping conclusion to Marie Rutkoski’s Forgotten Gods duology.

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.

384 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 14, 2021

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About the author

Marie Rutkoski

27 books8,140 followers
Marie Rutkoski is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for children and young adults, including THE HOLLOW HEART (September 14, 2021). Her debut for adults, REAL EASY (January 18, 2022), is a psychological thriller.

Born in Illinois, Marie holds degrees from the University of Iowa and Harvard University. She is currently a professor at Brooklyn College and lives in Brooklyn with her family.


(photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan)

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5 stars
535 (18%)
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Displaying 1 - 29 of 675 reviews
Profile Image for theresa.
286 reviews4,283 followers
November 28, 2021
#1: The Midnight Lie review

This review contains spoilers for The Midnight Lie.

The Hollow Heart was a brilliant follow up to one of my favourite books of the year, The Midnight Lie. This book had everything I loved about the first and so much more, with looks into Sid’s life and family and the dark, unrelenting nature of Nirrim’s character after the ending of the first book.

This book is truly Sid’s book. For the first time we could read from her perspective and understand her character to a new level. I really loved getting to read about her relationships with her family and her love for Nirrim. I think fans of the original Winner’s Trilogy will really enjoy this book as we spend a lot of time with who I assume to be the main characters of that trilogy. I loved Sid’s development here and thought it was so essential to the story, even if I did feel a bit left out for not having read the trilogy.

What I love most about this duology is the exploration of lesbianism, which is particularly interesting in a fantasy context. Both of our main characters, Sid and Nirrim, are lesbians and through them, we explore comp het and complex relationships with gender which are often intrinsic parts of being a lesbian. In particular, I had never seen comp het explored so well in a book and Nirrim’s character development as she realised there was a possibility for something better was heartwarming to read.

I also love the world of this duology and seeing it expanded in The Hollow Heart. In particular, I found learning more about the magic system and the gods really interesting and loved learning more about the different countries, including Sid’s home, Herran. In fact, the combination of worldbuilding and meeting Sid’s family has me wanting to pick up the original trilogy! Similar to The Midnight Lie, I also really enjoyed the writing style in this one; it has a lovely simplicity to it, while still describing things beautifully.

However, I did have a couple of issues with the book which stopped it from receiving the same 5 star rating as The Midnight Lie. I felt that the structure was very disjointed for the majority of the book as we switched between perspectives with no clear link besides their past relationships. Sid and Nirrim were on such different journeys that switching between the two often felt jarring and I’d have liked to have their paths reunite at least slightly earlier to combat this disjointed feeling. In the same vein, I felt that the ending was over very quickly, especially in comparison to the slow build of the rest of the book and would have liked to be drawn out a bit longer to create a more satisfying finish. Finally, I wasn’t entirely sure what role the third point of view, The God, played in the book. I enjoyed those chapters but they didn’t feel strictly necessary to the story. I also just missed the romance between Sid and Nirrim which I had loved so much in The Midnight Lie.

Overall, The Hollow Heart was an imperfect but still incredible follow up to The Midnight Lie. I thoroughly enjoyed this duology and highly recommend it, especially to lesbians hoping to see some of their experiences on page.

I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter

*eARC received in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley*
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
January 24, 2023
As The Hollow Heart, sequel to Midnight Lie begins, Nirrim has sold her heart, while Sid has returned to her home country of Herran to unite with her parents. And... there they will stay, until the last hundred pages of the book.

This series hardly needs a new promo that hasn’t already been given with The Midnight Lie—I think Nirrim is a genuinely brilliant character and I adore her deeply. Sid’s point of view is excellent, with her as a character impossible not to root for. Their relationship serves as a compelling one in part because it plays well at both of their character conflicts, requiring them each to change for their relationship to work.

As a book, however, I think this sequel suffers from structural issues. One brilliant aspect of this novel is that the main character arcs necessary for Nirrim and Sid both involve their connection with each other—Sid needs to let her guard down enough to love without lying, and Nirrim needs to see that not everyone will leave. So it’s frustrating that the two don’t see each other until the last fifty pages, I.e. the last sixth, of the book. To use a YA metaphor—it’s a bit as if when Inej was separated from the Crows at the end of Six or Crows, she stayed separate for 5/6 of the book rather than 1/6. The development of the ending thus ends up feeling just a little flat to me.

I feel like a more compelling, to me, way of dealing with Nirrim’s missing heart would veer less from what Nirrim actually wants. Instead of Nirrim being essentially possessed and not in control of herself when committing atrocities, it would be compelling for her to start off doing the type of dark things that Nirrim herself would deep-down want to do—for example, killing Raven and taking over the city—and slowly descend further into atrocities, either potentially with the tithe or I would lean closer to stuff with her sisters.

Then her and Sid need to interact in the second half—instead of the longstanding Sid and her parents miscommunication, Sid could get it established with her parents quickly that they don’t want her to get married, but not quite believe it. Then, as she realizes she loves and returns to try and save Nirrim, she can begin trying to reconcile with her own view of herself.

I also had a weird quibble with the dynamics of oppression. While the violence of Herrath is clearly intended to be a dynamic primarily of class, it’s at times played in part as racial oppression—the High Kith look different than the Half Kith. I think that lends a somewhat uncomfortable implication to evil Nirrim’s tithing of a tenth of the High Kith population. (Which, yes, is always meant to be bad.) Were this duology to be rewritten as class oppression and with all elements of racial oppression removed I think I would find the implications much more “French revolution” and less “genocide”.

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Profile Image for Elle.
414 reviews106 followers
August 21, 2021
If you’d asked me at the beginning of the year what my most anticipated read of 2021 was, I’d have answered instantly that it was this book. The Midnight Lie took my breath away when I read it, and THAT ENDING had me desperate to get my hands on the sequel.

Which makes it all the more disappointing that The Hollow Heart didn’t meet my (admittedly high) expectations.

With Nirrim’s sacrifice and Sid’s departure at the end of book one, The Hollow Heart sees both women on very different paths. Sid returns to Herran, only to find that her gravely ill mother needs her to play the part of palace spy once more. Meanwhile in Herrath, the heartless Nirrim begins a reign of terror over the people who subjugated her.

While The Midnight Lie is set in the same universe as The Winner’s Curse, it holds its own as a separate story. The Hollow Heart, however, does not. Sid’s quest to investigate her mother’s illness feels disjointed from the events happening on the island of Herrath - and feels more like a sequel to the Winner’s Curse trilogy, rather than a sequel to The Midnight Lie. Don’t get me wrong, I loved getting to see Sid interact with her parents. But the entire storyline was centred around Sid’s parents and the mistakes they’d made in the past - not around Sid herself. Rutkoski barely touched on what I felt was the most interesting potential aspect of bringing Sid’s parents into the story - her turbulent relationship with them, and her determination not to let them dictate how she choses to dress or who she loves. The focus instead is on characters from The Winner’s Curse and their relationships with each other. Sid felt like an afterthought in her own story.

Tonally, Sid’s storyline also felt odd. While Nirrim makes mistake after mistake in Herrath, Sid is miles away playing detective. The two perspectives felt unintentionally jarring, so much so that Sid and Nirrim’s eventual reunion - which happens far, far later in the book than I expected - didn’t have the angsty emotional catharsis that I hoped it would. Reuniting Sid and Nirrim almost feels like an afterthought - something hastily slotted in at the end.

If you’ve read my review of The Midnight Lie, you’ll know how gutted I am when I say that I wasn’t a fan of this book. It’s been a few months since I read it, and looking back I think what disappoints me most is that it made such little impression on me.

Many thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing a copy of The Hollow Heart. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating: 2 stars | ★★✰✰✰
Review cross-posted to Paperback'd Reviews
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,270 reviews337 followers
August 18, 2021
I enjoyed reading this sequel. It was not what I was expecting to be honest. I wanted Sid’s view which I got but I wanted to see the fun she got in winning her conquests, instead I got to see her vulnerability. In book one, Sid came off as untouchable, a good looking confident someone every woman wanted to be with. In this book she craved for her mom’s and Nirrim’s love. It’s more serious and less fun. However, I do liked how she solve problems. She learned of why her mom’s sick and she’s vigilant in finding out the source. I liked Sid’s quick thinking and how she unravel mysteries on the spot. Nirrim’s role was also unexpected but well deserved because she needed the strength to stand up to Raven and even Aden.

This book started with the view of the God. The God of Thieves and Nirrim made a bargain. Now the people behind the wall knew about their history and why they were separated. He’s free from his post and Nirrim’s a self-crowned ruler, a Queen, replacing him. The God’s view (mystery God until reveal at the end) will weave into the story every now and then to tell a story about how he met Raven. Then the story began with Nirrim. She thought she made the bargain so she wouldn’t miss Sid anymore but it wasn’t the case. Nirrim went back behind the wall and everyone were uneasy around her. She’s using the bird to see who can do magic. She’s dividing them out because she’s planning on a revenge against the High Kith for robbing them of their freedom in the past. The second view was Sid. She’s on the boat back to her country because her mom’s sick. She’s missing Nirrim and felt heart broken that Nirrim refused to go back home with her. At home she learned why her mom’s sick and realized what she truly wanted.

The Hollow Heart was well written and a fast paced read. The magic system was good and new to me. I will have to think twice about drinking pink tea if I ever come across it. The LGBT romance was light and just enough. I enjoyed Sid’s humor. I wonder how did the rose have a child when it was a rose at the time it met her. I wonder if Killian can see truth like his mom when he came to warn Nirrim. I don’t connect the gods in this story to Greek mythology until the term demigod appeared. It was because the term used in this story were god of foresight, god of thieves, god of death, god of games, etc. This duology was a good read but I think I enjoyed The Winner series more.

xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details

Many thanks to Macmillan Publishers for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.
Profile Image for Pine tree leaf stick.
182 reviews303 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
September 5, 2022
I don’t have time for books that move as slowly as this one.

At the almost halfway point, there had been nothing but alternating POV chapters that felt extremely repetitive and boring.

I do not like the direction this story took and I will not be finishing this, which is disappointing because I loved The Midnight Lie so much.

The 40% that I read gets 1/5 because I cannot think of anything positive to say.
Profile Image for say.
4 reviews8 followers
Want to read
August 19, 2020
sidnirrim happy ending or im fighting someone
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,051 reviews807 followers
August 29, 2021
On my blog.

Rep: lesbian mc, nonbinary lesbian mc, gay side character

CWs: gore, violence

Galley provided by publisher

The Hollow Heart is a book that feels like a fairytale. Or, more accurately, the story told in it, and across the duology as a whole, feels like one. That’s why I’d say it’s a very good idea to reread The Midnight Lie before this one, so you can see the story as a whole.

Because, in part, it picks off immediately after The Midnight Lie ends. Nirrim has just bartered her heart to the god of thieves, and Sid is leaving, heading back to a mother who is ill and may be dying.

Honestly, I really enjoyed the way the plot unfolded. I’ve seen mixed reactions to it, but I did like it. I think it helped that I made an effort to go into reading it with zero expectations. All I really wanted from the book was for Sid and Nirrim to end up together, so everything else was less important (in a sense). And, like I said, that helped. I could just let the story be told without any sense of it not going the way I wanted. I also think it helped that I reread book one just days before starting this, so I almost read it as one long book instead of two individual ones.

There’s not a whole lot I can say about this book without it verging on spoilery. As with The Midnight Lie, the writing here was absolutely gorgeous. The kind of writing that just consumes you the tiniest bit. I, selfishly, want Marie Rutkoski to be writing in this world forever because of this writing.

Add onto that getting to see familiar faces from The Winner’s Trilogy? I loved seeing Kestrel and Arin as parents themselves, as well as the way Sid acts with them. Also the way she denies herself what she wants, or puts herself through something she doesn’t, for the perceived good of her country? Can I say parallels?

Of course, Sid and Nirrim’s relationship was the real reason that I was here and it didn’t, for me, disappoint, although they didn’t get a lot of pagetime together (something to perhaps be aware of, if you were expecting more). I was a little bit disappointed that it ended where it did (where’s Nirrim meeting the in-laws?), but overall satisfied with the progression of their story.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,275 reviews280 followers
April 25, 2022
It took me months to finally read the final book in this duology, set years after The Winner's Curse series. It was great to finally see Kestrel and Arin again, and they truly did feel like older versions of themselves. I liked that we got a multi pov in this book, finally giving Sid a voice as she travelled back home to reconcile with her family, while Nirrim was waging war back in her own country. I would absolutely love another series set a year or so after this one though.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,372 reviews1,835 followers
September 15, 2021
I think I had promised myself a reread not just of THE MIDNIGHT LIE but also the main Winners Trilogy series before diving into this finale and.. whoops? None of that happened. I was so desperate to dive into this that I'd actually forgotten my plans until, like, halfway through. 

The grabby hands were just too too real.

As for what you can expect with this one, well.. everything is a spoiler. How book one ended was so huge, so unreal, that any hints to what that is will just ruin it if you haven't yet decided to start this series. But suffice it to say that a character we had seen go through so much, but remain true, kind, and gentle, well. She's a whole different person for this book. And so was the love interest; but in a very different way.

"You've changed."
"You used to be kind, Nirrim. Gentle. I liked you better before."
"Of course. I was easier for you to use."

Said love interest has connections back to characters from Rutkoski's other series and to say they would be complicated connections would be an understatement. In some ways, her journey is a nostalgic throwback to some of the themes from said series as webs have to be traced back to their weaver and somewhere, somehow, there is a plot to uncover. 

It remains the fate of all humans who lack compassion to never understand that they lack it.

How these two reunite, how it all gets resolved, well.. it was both satisfying and, keeping this from a five star, was a little unsatisfying. We are both living the story and being told this story, in a way, and there were definitely events, conflicts, that kind of happen outside of the main and get brushed over. Though this book isn't short I think had there been another hundred pages, and we'd had some of that beefed up, it would've been perfect. The ending, for all that some of it works so well, feels unbalanced. And that isn't me just complaining because I wanted more. Though that's true, too.

I think about the wrong people do for the sake of love, and how it is possible to love a villain.

With this series wrapped (so nice to have duologies pop up again) I have no idea what Rutkoski has planned for the future but after the long wait for this series, and because I was already such a fan, I don't care. She's an auto-read author for sure.


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for brianna.
235 reviews508 followers
February 21, 2022
EDIT: Upon further thought, I'm dropping this down to a 2 star because I really just disliked it.

TW: blood, violence, decapitation (onscreen), war, mental torture, gun violence, attempted murder, forced drug use (past, offscreen), addiction (past), death, described corpses, emotional abuse, poisoning, colonization, self-harm (a character pierces their own ears), amputation (past, mention), alcohol (mention)

My thoughts on The Hollow Heart are hard to express, because though I enjoyed the book and thought there were a lot of beautiful things about it, I felt that it severely disappointed me as a sequel.

Contrary to The Midnight Lie, this book uses multiple POV's, a choice I really enjoyed. Not only did we experience the POV's of our two main characters, we also had a third, omnipotent POV that helped add a mysterious narrative and gave Rutkoski more room to manipulate our understanding of the world,
both past and present. It offered more wiggle room to play around with timeline and connections in a way that I felt was really unique and made the work more godpunk in genre, which I'll never say no to.

But as much as I love Marie Rutkoski's descriptive writing and as much as I adore the characters and the world of this series, the sequel just fell short for me. There was a powerful, heartwrenching, almost Greek Mythology-style tale filled with conversations of heroism and love and mortality built into the framework of the story but that only started about 75% of the way through. To be given such a beautiful tale only in the last handful of pages really just felt like a waste, and by that point, I had been waiting so long for the plot to kick in that the story had lost almost all of the stakes and all of my interest. I really wish those last pages had been stretched out and expanded upon throughout the whole narrative instead of jammed in at the end. Too much of the story was dedicated to subplots and backstories that the main storyline felt like a second thought.

And all the elements and details that I loved so dearly in The Midnight Lie (the romance, the banter, the characterization) were just completely discarded in this book. Part of it made sense for the character arcs but it mostly just made me feel like the heart of the story itself was hollow. The romance was no longer believable, the story was disjointed and anti-climactic, and the characters felt lackluster when they had previously captured my heart.

In the art world, when making comics or graphic novels, there's a rule that states that you should draw the joints of a figure above or below a frame, but never right on the edge of it, so that our brains can subconsciously continue the image offscreen. If you draw the joint right at the edge of the frame, it disrupts the visual flow of the body and causes the viewer's brain to stop the image at the joint. It's jarring and subconsciously difficult to process, and I think that's exactly what Rutkoski did. With the two books, she sliced the plot right in the middle, right at the joint, in a way that disrupts the flow and makes it difficult to be able to connect the two stories.

EDIT: My friend El and I JUST figured out (while writing this review) that this duology is a spin-off of one of Rutkoski's other works, the Winner's Trilogy. With this knowledge, I'm realizing that the reason that I found so much of this book confusing or wasteful or empty in terms of plot was actually because Rutkoski just spent a large chunk of this book retconning this other series and centering its characters. (This required a lot of recaps and info dumps that seemed useless to wrapping up this duology and left me feeling disoriented.) To me - especially considering this series is never mentioned to be connected to the other in terms of marketing or otherwise - this is such an act of disrespect to The Midnight Lie. Sid and Nirrim deserve their own full and complete narrative, not for their story to be coopted as a way to fix the issues in Rutkoski's former work. And now this series is the one to contain glaring issues that need to be fixed since much of it was dedicated to telling another story. Truly such a failure on the author's part.
Profile Image for Brittany Smith.
233 reviews231 followers
April 9, 2021
Thank you to the publishers and Edelweiss for the ARC of this book.

The Hollow Heart was one of my most anticipated reads of the year because The Midnight Lie was one of my favorite YA books of modern times.

The Hollow Heart picks up right where The Midnight Lie left off, Sid going home to see her sick and dying mother (Kestrel) and Nirrim, freshly heartless after her deal with the god of thieves, declaring herself their queen.

Because of their separation, the book has two clearly defined arcs. Nirrim trying to garner support and take over the island and free her people by any—and I mean ANY—means possible. Whether it be outright fear and displays of her power or more subtle means of manipulation, bribes, and using the other descendants of demigods with powers to help her. Sid returning to Herran to discover her mother truly is dying, but not of sickness—of poison! It’s up to Sid, Kestrel’s daughter and spy, to save her mother and stop the assassin... and fix her relationship with her parents.

In between these POV changes, we see another perspective: an unknown god telling their own story and omnisciently telling the readers what they see (sometimes it’s things related to Nirrim, sometimes it’s related to Sid, sometimes even Kestrel and Arin)

All perspectives were equally interesting and entertaining to me (which barely ever happens) and I was flying, FLYING through this book. I need to know more. I needed Sid and Nirrim to be together again. But with all the separate story arcs, many things were happening, and it wasn’t until towards the end of the book that Sid and Nirrim reunited, so we unfortunately do not get many scenes of them together. I still loved the book, but in this regard it’s VERY different than the first book, since the first was very focused on their romance, and this more about the story and plot. I’m not sure how others will receive it because of these reasons, so it will be interesting to see what the feedback is once this is published.

My only complaint about this book is that, since it’s the last book in this duology, I wish we had been given more time with Sid and Nirrim together. I am greedy and I need more! I wish there had been more falling action so the book could ease out of the tense action of the climax and into warm, tranquil waters so we could enjoy a few more moments of happiness and hope and dreams of the future. Because of this, my true rating might be more of a 4.5 stars than a true 5 star review.

But I did really enjoy it, I loved the plot and the story and the character growth and the mending of fences, evil Nirrim, seeing Kestrel and Arin (now a silver fox, btw) again, the PINING, the handful of sidnirrim scenes, discovering more of Nirrim and Sid’s backstories, more intimate look at the gods, everything.

So many times reading this my heart lodged in my throat and tears gathered in my eyes. I can tell Marie put so much love into these books. It shines through in these stories, in these characters, in this unwavering hope. I have been so invested in Nirrim and Sid... I’m sad to let them go. I don’t want it to be over. But now it is.

But I will be starting a GoFundMe for bribes to send to Marie Rutkoski for a post-THH fluff novella. Please Marie. I’ll do anything.
Profile Image for Jewel.
780 reviews17 followers
September 16, 2021
The Hollow Heart was a very disappointing follow up not only to the first book in the Forgotten Gods duology, but to one of my favorite trilogies of all time, the Winner's Curse series. And that's because I couldn't stand Sid or Nirrim at all, when in the previous book I actually found them book quite likable.

Nirrim has had her compassion stolen by a god, so she goes from this sweet, brave character to this totalitarian dictator in the blink of an eye, and I just couldn't connect with her anymore. There was no room for character development, either positive or negative, because all her actions were influenced by the curse that was put on her. By the end, she magically becomes a good person again, and everything is supposed to be great, even though she murdered so many people in her quest for vengeance.

If she had become a villain through natural means, I would have found her story arc more interesting. I would have loved if she had still possessed compassion, but slipped further and further into becoming just like the people who once oppressed her because of her single minded desire to ruin those that had hurt her. (if you want to read a book that shows a really brilliant devolution of a once moral character, I'd recommend The Poppy War)

As for Sid, I just found her so dense and annoying. She has two loving parents and lives a life of privilege, but resents them for not perfectly understanding her thoughts and feelings that she hides from them. She feels jealous that she hasn't had "adventure" like Kestrel and Arin, and just ignores the fact that although a lot of crazy things happened to them, most of their lives were full of terror and suffering.

Her mother was sentenced to death at a labor camp by her own father, and her father's parents were slaughtered and then he became a slave for most of his youth. Not to mention the fact that Sid just goes off, steals a ship, and has an adventure, and no one stops her and restricts her or makes her come home. All of her character development was basically just realizing that her parents never forced her to do anything, and she just did what she thought they would want and then resented them for it... based off of nothing. It was so frustrating.

Speaking of Kestrel and Arin, I was so annoyed that Sid's nanny tried to poison Kestrel (A very Victoria Holt type of plot twist), and Arin just decided not to kill her because it would hurt Sid's feelings and because he understood her motive. That's so out of character for Arin, not to mention the fact that Kestrel is the queen of their country. Someone tried to assassinate her and they just shrugged their shoulders like it was no big deal. I mean, honestly, this book sometimes read like bad fan fiction.

The original trilogy is still amazing, but this duology ended up being really underwhelming for me.
Two stars.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,979 reviews3,300 followers
September 7, 2021
4.5 stars rounded up

I have been WAITING for this book!! The Hollow Heart concludes this duology and while I didn't love it quite as much as Midnight Lie, I still liked it a lot and felt this was a very satisfying conclusion. Rutkoski delivers on a twisty plot, gods interfering with human affairs, and a fraught sapphic romance.

Also, for fans of the Winners Curse trilogy, you get a lot more crossover in this book with characters from that series! I don't want to spoil things, but this duology is set in the same world, about 20+ years in the future. It was cool to see how things have shaped up for the characters in that original series.

In this book Nirrim no longer has her heart and is heading a revolution while Sid returns home to her dying mother. This is full of court intrigue, violence, and difficult choices, as well as sapphic angst.

My only issue with the book didn't end up being a big deal for me, but might really bother some readers. A LOT of the conflict occurs because Sid is horrendously bad at communication- both misunderstanding what other people are trying to say, and refusing to communicate her feelings, wants and needs because of pride and assumptions of what other people want from her. This is definitely frustrating for part of the book because Sid willfully makes things harder than they need to be. I know some readers have zero patience for that, but I loved everything else enough I wasn't too bothered by it. Plus Sid does learn and grow through the book. If that's not a deal breaker for you, I highly recommend this duology!

The audiobook was pretty good and we get appropriately different voices for the two character perspectives. I received an audio review copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for маја .
273 reviews106 followers
September 11, 2021
objectively speaking, is this a five star read? not really, i think the book could've been a lot longer, especially at the end. (marie if u see this, we need a novella!!!)
but objectivity aside, i haven't felt this much love for fictional characters (both old and new) and serotonin while reading a book since like... 2018?
for the fans of the winner's trilogy, this book felt like a warm hug. even though you can treat the forgotten gods series as its own, separate thing - the experience of revisiting your favourite characters as the parents in this book is absolutely unmatched. if you see me rereading the winner's trilogy, it's because of this. marie rutkoski you got me, i WILL read anything you write, even if it's your grocery shopping list.
Profile Image for Bookphenomena (Micky) .
2,380 reviews375 followers
September 9, 2021
4.5 stars

A treat for Winner's Trilogy fans
Emotions in shreds

Ooof, what a read and culmination to this duology set within The Winner's Trilogy world. I have been on an emotional roller coaster, I'm a little dizzy and sad it's over. The Sid and Nirrim from The Midnight Lie were different in this story, one more mature and the other completely different; I was utterly glued to the page.

I lived for the time in with Sid and others (trying not to give too much away here) in Herrani and I simply loved time with those characters of old, seeing them in a different light, through a different lens. Sid really grew from that cad-ish character we saw in book one to a person with self-realisation over a number of factors. There were a number of clever twists to the tale in Herrani. Seeing Sid's mother in a state of weakness was kind of shocking, her father was warm and strong. Ohhh, the feels here.

I found reading about Nirrim discomforting, her situation was painful as were her actions. I longed for restoration of her lost self and connection with those she had loved. I found the whole separation of these two painful, emotional and compelling. The weaving in of the forgotten gods was also clever plotting.

It wrapped up quickly towards the finish and I definitely could have managed some more of what happened after but I'm not complaining. This is one of the strongest and enjoyable fantasy duologies I've read in a while and both installments were equally as good as one another. Marie Rutkoski remains one of those authors who I am drawn to on plot and characterisation with a unique fantasy world. Roll on her next incarnation.

Mortals say it as though they can feel the hand of the beloved inside their ribs, palm supporting the heart, fingers curled lightly around the trembling muscle. Pain could come so easily. All it would take is a good, hard squeeze.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the finished review copy.

Find this review at A Take From Two Cities Blog.
Profile Image for Annie (Sad Water Bottle).
190 reviews81 followers
Shelved as 'please-release'
December 31, 2020
I am 99% sure the only hollow heart after I finish this book will be mine

Edit 12/31: HOLY SHIT THE COVER I---

Is it bad that I actually love this?
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews977 followers
September 23, 2021
Nirrim could have wondered about the truth of what she had lost for every moment of her little life, but she could not have named it, for it was compassion, and it remains the fate of all humans who lack compassion never to understand that they lack it.

The Hollow Heart is the second installment in the Forgotten Gods duology and a spin off to the oriignal trilogy -The Winner's Curse.

The second book continues the story of two doomed lovers Nirrim and Sid. They both are separated and face a lot of challenges including the changes inside their hearts. Will they survive and meet again? You will have to find the answers on the pages of this book.

I am a little bit confused about the Forgotten Gods. From one side, Marie promised she would write another story taking place in the Winner's Curse universe. I was delighted to know about it. But then I found out that one of the main characters is a child of the main characters from the original trilogy and I was afraid because I knew we will meet my beloved Arin and Kestrel in this book, years later and older. And it was a shock. I still can't match the characters from the original with the ones I see now.

Don't get me wrong, I am still delighted to read about them, to see how they fared all these years, but the age gap is always a hard thing when you still see and love the characters when they were in their prime. I don't want them to get old! I don't want to know they have kids!

I don't want to...

But deep down I was curious and if I am honest with myself, I loved all the references and connections to the original. It is such a wonder how Arin and Kestrel's story turned to myth. I saw it from a different perspective; Marie added something I never knew about them. And it was magical and terrifying.
She smoothed flyaway hair off my brow. Yes, he imprisoned me, but I imprisoned him first. Do not worry, tadpole. He is mine, and I am his. Always.

If The Winner's Curse wasn't really a fantasy and did not contain magic, Forgotten Gods is a fantasy and contains magic. It is a widening of the Winner's Curse Universe; unrevealing of its white spots on the map. Gods are real and magic is real.

I wasn't really connected to Nirrim or Sid in the previous book, but in this one I loved Sid. She is such a complex and tormented character! Nirrim too, for sure, but she just did not click with me on the same level, and Sid's and Nirrim's romance did not click as well, because I was comparing it to the Winner's Curse, and nothing can slay that book, I swear! Sid perfectly understands that she can't match her parents' story but she would like to find someone she could have an epic love story with. Does Marie try to make Sid's and Nirrim's story epic? Sure. But she cheats a little bit by saying through Sid that no one can have what Kestrel and Arin had.

I would love to learn more about Gods and their story. It was a fascinating tale of immortal life full of love, betrayals, and jealousy. And Marie is a perfect storyteller who delivered the Gods' story with the behind-the-scenes voice of one of the Gods. I seriously had goosebumps reading those passages.

All in all, Forgotten Gods is a must-read if you are a fan of the original trilogy. If you haven't read The Winner's Curse but want to read this duology - you might, but I would advise against it because you'll lose a lot of references and surely one or two emotional breakdowns so necessary for a true book lover. So choose wisely.
Profile Image for dani.
65 reviews26 followers
September 12, 2021

This is the book of longing. Just every other page is yearning lesbians across the sea from each other. It should come with some kind of warning on it.

This one felt way more plot/world driven where the previous one felt more character driven. Each narrator was on a separate journey and I have to say that Sid’s brought me to tears at points. And Nirrim’s was like reading a completely new, terrifying character.

The ending felt a little abrupt to me but that just could be me being entirely selfish and wanting more sidnirrim and more and more. Maybe it could never be enough, ya know? I felt like I could read a whole other book just about what happens after the events at the end.

All in all I was satisfied, but devastated to finish this book. One of my all time favorite duologies. <3
Profile Image for Irati.
275 reviews7 followers
October 17, 2021
Ok I didn't find this even remotely similar to the first one, and I found that pretty disappointing.

First of all, this time around, the flowery writing annoyed me a lot, because it made everything extremely repetitive and over-written, I had a very difficult time reading it

Not as much as Sid's POV though ! That was even worse, for several reasons. First, I don't know shit about the author's previous trilogy, and so I cared very little for Sid's parent's plot points, I didn't feel anything towards them, even though I'm attached to Sid.
Also, I found Sid's constant"not answering questions truthfully" and her "misinterpreting stuff in a bad way" extremely frustrating, most dialogue she had in the book was her being mad and difficult for petty reasons mostly (like I understand that we were supposed to see how rebellious and brave she is for being proudly lesbian and wanting to fight for her right to choose her life, but the way that whole thing was resolved so easily just by her finally deciding to be honest with her parents made the whole thing pointless to me).

So yeah, that's too bad, because I still think the magic system was super cool even though very underused (we got many people discovering their powers and using them once, one after the other).
I honestly couldn't say what I wanted instead, but this wasn't it. Maybe my final thought should be that I kinda liked the first book on its own, in retrospect.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for QuietBlizzard.
178 reviews359 followers
September 17, 2021
So this book is useless. Seriously. It's high on I don't know what and nothing of what happens truly matters. It's rushed, superficial and I honestly don't understand the point of writing something like this. It's so baffling (and I'm disappointed).
Profile Image for NAT.orious reads ☾.
836 reviews329 followers
March 28, 2022
This book is for you if… you are a fan of Marie's writing or enjoy narratives with a lot of deep themes such as leadership, romance, independence and struggles with family and upbringing.

It's an inarguable fact that Marie's got a very specific way of telling stories. It's never just a anything, just a love story, just a tale about abusive upbringing, or just the theme of struggling with independence from one's family. It's all of the above, and, in sum, so much more.

Admittedly, the writing was quite slow at times. People who've read more of my reviews now that prose only goes so long for me; I value suspense a lot more. In combination with deep, goose-bumps-inducing themes, they are my addiction.

I read her Winner's Curse trilogy ages ago and still remember the depth and intensity of feeling she arose in me. Marie never tells just one story but rather that of many people, themes and identities. I couldn't be happier she brought the ✧・゚: *✧・゚:* gay *:・゚✧*:・゚✧ in her Forgotten Gods series. She makes you think of both yourself and the dynamics that shape this society we're living in. I saw on Goodreads that she ventured into other genres and have read different opinions about it, naturally, I will have to make up my own mind about it at some point.

What’s happening.
‘I laugh a little. ‘You speak as though loving were a talent or skill.’ She closes her hand over the small gold hoop. ‘It is. Never forget it.’’

spoiler alert : If this hasn't hit a very sensitive personal cord with you, at least you'll have this book to learn how much skill and learning loving actually takes.
4 STARS. Would stay up beyond my typical hours to finish it. I found some minor details I didn't like, agree with or lacked in some kind but overall, this was enjoyable and extraordinary.

3 STARS. Decent read that I have neither strongly positive nor negative feelings about. Some things irked me and thus it does not qualify as exceptional.
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