Review: Hollow by Karina Halle

HOLLOW
Series: A Gothic Shade of Romance #1
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Gothic Romance
Release Date: September 28, 2023

From the New York Times bestselling author of River of Shadows and A Ship of Bones and Teeth comes a smutty spooky dark academia gothic romance retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, where Kat Van Tassel doesn’t have to choose between Brom Bones and Ichabod Crane, and there are worse things haunting them than the Headless Horseman.

Ever since she was a child, Kat Van Tassel knew that her parents had arranged for her to marry her best friend, Brom Bones, when she became of age. That was until Brom mysteriously vanished from the secretive village of Sleepy Hollow when he was just a teenager.
Now, at nineteen, Kat is fulfilling the tradition of attending Sleepy Hollow Institute, a shadowy and prestigious school that is run by her powerful family. There she starts to fall for her new teacher, the enigmatic, smart, and much older Ichabod Crane, whose fascination with dark magic and the occult brings out a new side of Kat—in more ways than one.
Until Brom Bones suddenly appears in her class. Her childhood friend doesn’t remember what happened to him in the four years that he’s been gone, all he knows is that he’s back in Sleepy Hollow for good. The only problem is, he’s not the same man that Kat knew. Cocky and brash as a youth, this Brom is violent and prone to bouts of madness. It doesn’t help that his reappearance coincides with gruesome decapitations that are plaguing the town, with rumors swirling about a vengeful ghost called The Headless Horseman.
Determined to get to the bottom of the murders and Brom’s volatility, Crane takes Brom under his wing to study him, and they begin to grow close, just as they do with Kat. But the more that the threesome submits to their sexual desires on the path to the truth, the more dangerous Sleepy Hollow becomes.  The Headless Horseman might claim them as his next victims…if something even more terrifying doesn’t get to them first.

Hollow is a standalone book of aprox 90K words and may contain some triggering situations, even though this is NOT considered a dark romance. You can view the content warning when the book is live by using the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon. Hollow has foul language, graphic sexual situations including mmf, and is not suitable for those under 18.

AMAZON

A perfect gentleman would have told her that he’d prefer to walk, to keep space between them.
But I am not a perfect gentleman.
Truth be told, I’m not a gentleman at all.
I’m a deviant.

Being in my spooky season era, I was desperate to get my hands on this book. So it’s no surprise that I basically read it in a sitting, right? Right.

Now, this is either a book you will click with or you won’t at all. I fall into the former. Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorite spooky season movies. So a retelling where Katrina doesn’t have to chose between Brom or Ichabod? Sign me up! But keep in mind that this is a book set in the 1800s, so if you’re applying modern morals to it, it also probably won’t be your cuppa. But I digress.

This book had such a vibe. A dark and spooky vibe. I will admit that while I am a whole a$s grown woman, there are parts of this book I had to read with all the lights on and every door open with my dog by my side. What? I may be grown but I’m still a chicken, okay? But I digress again.

This story is basically a retelling of Sleepy Hollow but with a twist. Ichabod Crane is a professor at an illusive school that has some dark secrets that never leave the grounds. Katrina has just entered her first year of the school even though it’s the last place she wants to be. But after the death of her father, her mother’s wish is for her to do her duty and attend the school. And Brom? Well, that’s a plot twist and then some. Brom and Katrina are promised to each other in marriage when they are just babies. Kat has been in love with Brom for years. But after a fateful night together, he disappears and no one hears from him for years. Only for him to turn up with no memories of where he’s been and a unique connection to Ichabod. And I won’t tell you more than that.

I can definitely see why this is now split into two books, where there’s a lot of story to unpack here. Hollow read so quick because I was desperate for answers that I only seemed to get small kernels of teasing about. The mystery, the horror vibes, the spooky setting, all of it combined for a deliciously addictive read that I can’t wait to read the conclusion for. We get a small peak into the MM side here so I’m very hopeful to get more in book two because these two definitely have a ton of chemistry to be peeled back and when you add Kat to the mix it just gets better.

#DGRFave & Review: A Ship of Bones and Teeth by Karina Halle

A SHIP OF BONES AND TEETH
Genre: 
Fantasy Romance
Author: Karina Halle
Release Date: May 25, 2023

A STANDALONE gothic dark fantasy pirate romance re-telling of The Little Mermaid from the New York Times Bestselling Author of River of Shadows and Blood Orange .

Princess Maren is a woman with a secret.
 
When she was just 16-years old, she sold her soul to the sea witch Edonia, giving up a life underwater in exchange for the love of Prince Aerik on land. But after a decade of abuse and misery inflicted by the cruel prince, Maren wants nothing more than to leave him and her royal role behind and find Edonia to reverse the spell.
 
An opportunity for escape presents itself when the prince and princess are traveling overseas and are taken hostage by a band of notorious pirates, led by the fearsome Captain Ramsay “Bones” Battista.
 
Maren has heard the sordid stories about the infamous pirate–not only is his ship supposedly haunted and crewed by the damned, but that no prisoners ever survive. Fortunately for Maren, she learns that the captain also has a score to settle with the sea witch. With any luck, Maren may be able to get her old life back, even if it’s being held in the captain’s wicked hands.
 
But Ramsay gets more than he bargained for when he learns who–and what –Maren is, and that her appetite for revenge, freedom, and bloodlust rivals his.
 
Meanwhile Maren finds herself falling for the pirate’s dark nature, even as she discovers that Ramsay has a secret more deadly than her own.

When it comes to the high seas, not all monsters lurk beneath the surface.

Content Though this is a fantasy, it is also a dark romance with potential triggers. A full list can be found inside the book or on the pinned cover reveal post on IG (authorhalle)
 

AMAZON 

“You are a stunning abyss of a creature,” I tell her. “One that I could spend eons swimming in and never get to the bottom of.”

I’m going to make a bold statement right now. But this book? Hands down my favorite read of 2023 so far! Holy book crack, batman! This was a page turner that I never wanted to end.

I have been salivating for this book ever since Karina announced it. I mean, Pirates of the Caribbean meets Little Mermaid? Yes please and thank you. And did this meet my high expectations? Heck no! It blew them out of the water. I am shooketh. SHOOKETH I tell you.

Maren is a syren (mermaid) who dreams of a different life. When she sees a prince on the shore, she dreams of a life among humans. And when a witch offers her the chance, she’s not prepared for the soul crushing decision she makes. Because her prince turns out to be nothing more than a monster. And her salvation just might be at the hands of a ruthless pirate who takes her and her husband captive.
You’re a monster!” she says to me, struggling against me, but I quickly pull her arms up over her head, securing them with the rope that I’ve already attached to my waist. Can’t be too careful now.
“A monster?” I repeat, pressing my body against hers until she can’t even move an inch. “Tell me more, darling. I always fancy a compliment.”

Captain Ramsay “Bones” Battista is everything my bookish dreams are made of. He’s a touch ruthless, revenge seeking pirate who happens to have a dirty mouth of a sailor (ha! see what I did there) and a possessive and protective streak that runs deep, even for his captured princess.

This story was a non stop, action packed ride that honestly unraveled like a movie reel behind my eyes. The world building, the characters, the romance, it was everything. Pirates, kraken, sirens, sea witches, and so much more filled the pages. I was so obsessed and I still can’t stop thinking about it. If you’re looking for something unique, unforgettable, and completely unputdownable, look no further.

Review: Black Rose by Karina Halle

BLACK ROSE
Series:
Dracula Duet #2
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: March 18, 2023

 

From the New York Times best-selling author of River of Shadows and Black Sunshine comes a new dark gothic romance duet about how love can transcend the ages, but at a deadly cost.

Is it her destiny to love him?

Or is it her destiny to die?

Valtu Aminoff is no stranger to tragedy. Though many know him as the enigmatic vampire that inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Valtu’s complex life is far more horrific than any fiction could imagine. When you lose the love of your life over and over again, it can do more than break your heart—it can corrupt your soul.
It’s up to his new lover to decide if Valtu’s damaged soul is even worth saving.

But destiny isn’t done with Valtu yet. And tragedy is always around the corner.

Black Rose is the sequel to Blood Orange and is not a standalone. Snap up this completed dark gothic vampire romance duet if you like:

  • High spice
  • Dark Academia
  • Gothic Setting
  • Vampires vs Witches
  • Spooky vibes
  • Reincarnated love
  • Dracula re-telling
  • Fantasy romance

Please check inside the book for content warnings.

AMAZON

My heart found his again. But his heart doesn’t know mine.

After the jaw dropping conclusion of Blood Orange, I have been on pins and needles waiting for the conclusion of this duet. Suffice it to say I devoured it in my eager anticipation.

The darkness in me calls to the darkness in you…”

I love an epic fated mates story and it doesn’t get more fated that na love story that defies the ages through reincarnation. I felt like these two books were like two sides of a coin, different perspectives but same world. What I’m saying is, that if you expect a similar style of story to Blood Orange, this wasn’t exactly it. It was different. Not in a bad way, but different nonetheless.

While Blood Orange had me in a fiery chokehold, this was more of a sizzling burn. Valtu is not the Valtu of book one, he’s a vampire who lost his humanity to his pain. He lost himself to his grief and. willingly lost himself in the process. When he and Rose see each other, it’s a different journey. We really get to see Rose unending love for him and his redemption and I was so here for it.

Admittedly, I felt the most riveting part of the book was also a bit rushed and saved for the final 10%. I would have loved to spend more time on this part of the story because this what the previous book was ultimately leading up to. It felt like there was some open ended answers and gaps that weren’t fully filled. This may be intentional with a set up for what I’m hoping are more books in this world. Don’t get me wrong, it was satisfying and the couple get a beautiful HEA. But there were things that were merely glazed over that I would have loved to get deeper into.

All that aside, I still greatly enjoyed this book. I loved seeing the darker side of Valtu and Rose’s healing touch. I loved watching Valtu fall for her all over again and I loved the way they fought for each other.

Review: Blood Orange by Karina Halle

BLOOD ORANGE
Series:
The Dracula Duet #1
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: October 16, 2022

From New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle comes a dark and delicious Dracula retelling filled with secrets and lies, dangerous liaisons and a forbidden, student-teacher, second chance love story with a twist.

“My heart will always find yours.”

Dahlia Abernathy has only known revenge. When her parents were killed at an early age by vampires, Dahlia spent the rest of her life under the thumb of the Witch’s Guild being trained to kill them. Her latest mission sends her undercover to a prestigious music academy in Venice, Italy. Her goal? To kill Professor Valtu Aminoff, her teacher and the notorious vampire who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

But getting close to a dangerous vampire like Professor Aminoff is one thing. Falling for him is another. With Dahlia’s appearance disguised under a glamor spell, Valtu has no idea that the woman who has become his new dark obsession is actually the reincarnation of the woman he loved and lost twice before.

And Dahlia doesn’t remember that the very man she has been sent to kill is the love of her life.

Will their love come through and transcend time once again? Or are the fated lovers destined to let history repeat itself?

Blood Orange is a modern-day Dracula retelling about the “real-life” Dracula that inspired Bram Stoker. This is a dark vampire romance with plenty of content warnings (please check interior of book for extensive list as it is +++++spicy) and while it is a spinoff of The Dark Eyes Duet, you do not need to read any other books before Blood Orange.

AMAZON

To forget her would be to forget what it’s like to be human, and I’m dangerously close to losing myself all together at times. And so I will write down all I remember of her, in hope that our love might bring about my humanity.

I have a confession and I don’t need you judging me for it, okay?

…This is my first Karina Halle book…
I said not to judge me! What are those judgy eyes? I see them! But anyhoos

I was in the mood for a spicy PNR and boy did this deliver. A fresh take on the story of Dracula, this brought together two of my favorite things; soulmates and dirty talk. *dreamy sigh* Oh and a bit of my Buffy/Angel fetish with the whole vampire, and vampire slayer thing. *another dreamy sigh* But I digress again.

Dahlia Abernathy is in Venice on a mission. Posing as a student, she’s determined on her mission to kill the elusive Dracula…who happens to be her new professor. Oh and he’s also sexier than sin. Dahlia is a witch, who after the gruesome death of her parents by vampires, has killed many in her search for revenge. But nothing prepares her for her encounter with Dracula, Valtu Aminoff.

For my girlies who love their MCs kinky and with plenty of dirty talk, prepare yourself for the experience that is Valtu. I’m obsessed with this man…erm…vampire. Unwillingly, Dahlia finds herself quickly drawn to the one she’s been sent to kill. He’s not at all who she thought he was. She also soon finds herself questioning everything she’s been told her entire life and just how clearly she sees things.

This was an addictive page turner that I devoured in two days. And that cliffhanger? Painful! Desperately need the next book.

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