Hollow Empire, Sam Hawke – Book Review

Hello Humans! It’s been a good time for sequels lately, and now that I actually have the time to re-read you can best believe I have been devouring both the originals and the new releases. One such sequel for which I was incredibly excited was Hollow Empire the follow on to one of my favourite books of the year City of Lies. Well, I read it and WOW.

Goodreads Summary:

You never get used to poisoning a child . . .

Two years after a devastating siege tore the country apart, Silasta has recovered. But to the frustration of poison-taster siblings Jovan and Kalina, sworn to protect the Chancellor, the city has grown complacent in its new-found peace and prosperity.

And now, amid the celebrations of the largest carnival the continent has ever seen, it seems a mysterious enemy has returned.

The death of a former adversary sets Jovan on the trail of a cunning killer, while Kalina negotiates the treacherous politics of visiting dignitaries, knowing that this vengeful mastermind may lurk among the princes and dukes, noble ladies and priests. But their investigations uncover another conspiracy which now threatens not just Silasta and the Chancellor but also their own family.

Assassins, witches and a dangerous criminal network are all closing in. And brother and sister must once more fight to save their city – and everyone they hold dear – from a patient, powerful enemy determined to tear it all down . . .

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

Kicking off the review by saying that I actually reread City of Lies before picking this up – which I 10000% recommend especially if, like me, you’re a little bit foggy on what happened in book one. That being said, the book does open with a creative way of recapping the events of City of Lies so those who might be a little bit time poor or have too much on their list will probably be ok. I know that’s always a concern I have when picking up a sequel so thought it worth mentioning.

Hollow Empire takes place two years after City of Lies and while much has changed in Silasta there are still things bubbling away under the surface. As before, Jovan and Kalina need to use their various skills to try and pick apart the various conspiracies and events happening in their city to discover where roots have gone rotten. This book does a really good job of creating a huge web of events which could mean any number of things. It’s sort of like a fantasy mystery novel, one thing could be a red herring or it could be the key that unlocks the entire conspiracy – but you can bet that when the reveal happens it’ll both be a huge surprise and the most obvious solution. It’s my absolute favourite kind of plot to read and trust me when I say it is just as good as City of Lies.

At the start of the story I was a bit worried that the plot would feel less consequential than in City of Lies purely because everything felt a bit smaller, but I actually think that the…intimacy of the start of the book works really well – and things definitely ramp up later on. Jovan and Kalina have to work hard in this book and at times it does feel like the two of them never get a break to recover from the last thing, but again I think that adds to the strange claustrophobia of this city setting. Without the pressure of the siege in book one, the two of them are very much stuck where they are, Silasta is the centre of the web.

I continue to adore Kalina and Jovan has grown on me to the point where I might even like him just as much. I think the addition of a new character or two in relation to Jovan helps to develop some aspects of his personality that didn’t come across as well in book one.

I didn’t think a sequel could possibly live up to how much I adored City of Lies and yet this book did. I think the fact that it starts off as a much less obvious threat really helps to change things up and trust me things are just as dramatic as they were in the first book. There are moments that truly made me want to cry and others that had me at the edge of my seat – it’s so good.

Like City of Lies this book has very long chapters, alternating between Jovan and Kalina. My recommendation is that you give this book some focus, some dedicated time. I don’t personally feel it’s the kind of story that you can just dip in and out of, reading a couple of pages at a time. Not in the least because you might need to make a mental ‘detective’ board to keep track of all the various goings on.

Would I recommend this? 100000% – make sure you read City of Lies first but this is firmly one of my favourite series of all time.

My rating: 5/5 stars

I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Hollow Empire is out November 26th!

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

What say you? What are some of your favourites? Let me know in the comments below!


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