The Hollow by Jessica Verday has an excellent premise: Abbey, whose best friend Kristen has died right before their junior year of high school, meets a mysterious, handsome young man while at her funeral. Jessica doesn't have many friends, and with Kristen gone, she takes solace in visiting the cemetery near her home in Sleepy Hollow; it's there that she gets to know Caspian, and the two develop a relationship as they begin to share their stories. But there is something odd about Caspian: he seems to have feelings for Abbey but yet he never seems to want to touch her, and he disappears for weeks at time, yet he brings her gorgeous gifts and gives her a special nickname that warms Abbey's heart. Meanwhile, there's Ben, a local boy who seems willing to befriend Abbey, but she is too distracted by Caspian, the loss of her friend, and her hobby of creating perfumes to really want to get to know Ben.
Lots to like in this hefty book: Abbey is a tortured soul who desperately needs to make peace with herself over the loss of her friend, and she seems determined to latch onto people who may seem a bit odd to others. Her parents are well meaning and yet too busy to really involve themselves in her life at times, and Caspian seems to be just what is missing in Abbey's life when he appears. The desperation Abbey feels is apparent in most of her actions, and quite honestly, I left the book wondering just how sane she really was (much like Abbey sometimes wonders herself). And there's that premise of an excellent paranormal element tied to the Legend of Sleepy Hollow--a great idea in itself. And being a lover of cemeteries myself, I really connected to that element of Abbey's existence.
Still...there's a lot that bugged me about this novel. Many people have mentioned the size of the book--it's 500+ pages in a hardback format, making it hefty and not easy to lug around, and the fact that it's double spaced type is just irritating. A huge number of those pages are Abbey doing very mundane things, stretching out the time when it could easily have been compressed to make the story tighter and flow better. The paranormal aspect is actually downplayed until the final couple of chapters, and if Abbey had cried or whined one more time, I would've wall banged the book for good. And as my husband said, sometimes knowledge can be a dealbreaker--in the first few pages, Verday has Abbey watching a *bulldozer* dig a grave. Raised by a father in the excavation business, I can tell you emphatically that bulldozers don't dig--they smooth. It's a *backhoe* that digs and that cemeteries employ. I know, I know, it's a little thing, but accuracy goes a long way in my enjoyment, and it's those little details that an editor should have caught.
Spoiler alert... Okay, if you're still reading, I'll say it bugged me that Abbey can touch Nikolas and Katy and not Caspian (though that might be explained later), and that there were a few too many coincidences (Seriously, Abbey just happens to get a hold of a yearbook from Caspian's high school...and his photo is missing...and his dad has the yearbook at his shop?) Most of all, what's the deal with the black streak in Caspian's hair, which Katy and Nikolas say "marks him as one of us...a Shade"...but they don't have black streaks and Caspian's very much alive father remembers from when he was alive?
Still, this is not a bad book, and I have to say it kept me engaged while reading it. I just feel that there are too many holes to be punched (many of which a good editor should have caught...which seems to be happening more and more lately). I just expected more of a creepy ambiance, more paranormal activity (that seemed paranormal), and a stronger heroine who can handle herself in an emotionally more mature manner. I'm on the fence as to whether or not I'll read the next in the series; I'll have to give it a skim when it comes out to see if the story seems to move along better and fills in some of the blanks.