Queen of the Hollow by Jacci DeVera
Calla is a young shifter, the only female within miles High Lonesome, her small southern West Virginia hometown. Her mother had managed to keep her safe from the bounty of male mountain lions in the past, but now Calla finds herself alone and without a protector…and the moon is full.
Haben hasn’t been able to get close to Calla since their first meeting, right around Valentine’s Day. When he shows up at her house a year later, he finds the wounded spit-fire determined for him to keep his distance – despite his instinct to keep her safe.
Calla must choose to either place her trust and safety to an outsider, or fight off every male mountain lion between here and Charleston with just her wits and a shotgun. The stakes are high and the numbers are against them. Even if they prevail, will Calla be able to keep her heart safe from her protector till sunrise?
“I know about you.”
An icy cold hand wrapped around her chest. If he was a Shifter, she should’ve been able to sense it in him, as well. But she hadn’t. And that’d be the only way he could distinguish. “What do you know?”
“I know about the moon. And how it sings. To its children. And what it brings to you.”
Calla squinted. The moon was a harsh master and she a wretched slave-thing forced to become something not human; to behave like an animal. There was no singing, no beckoning lullaby. There was only screeching and crying and fighting for the control the moon twisted away from her.
It had been a year ago Calla had met Haben at the dollar store on a day she and Momma had needed corn syrup and safety pins. She remembered she’d been staring at the stuffed animals and heart-shaped boxes that had chocolate in them.
At first glance, the boy called Haben had been like no one she’d ever seen before. Second glance, he was just so easy on the eyes she nearly sighed. Third glance he caught her watching him and smiled. She’d been lost.
Was Haben a Shifter? She supposed he could’ve found his way here by asking around town. But it was February. He worked on an apple orchard. She had presumed with winter he would return to his family in Costa Rica. It was where he sent all his money, he’d told her. Otherwise he would have had enough to buy her a small, red heart-box with a plush kitten on top, he’d teased—right before Momma dragged her out of the store to the grocery.
“This,” he said and she brought her attention back to where he stood in the deepening darkness of the yard. He moved a finger beneath the knotted hemp choker he wore at his neck. A symbol rested on his throat, made from wound grass, yarn and pewter. It was round, with three shapes that looked like raindrops, and three crossed lines through them. She remembered. He wore it all the time.
“Abuela, my grandmother, she was sacerdotisa,” he told her, his voice carrying on the night air. “She make this for me. So other cambiadors do not sense me.”
He looked down for just a second, thinking. “Changers.”
“Sí!” He nodded once. He still held the stuffed cat and the heart-shaped box out to his side. His eyes narrowed. “Can I come in?”
She wanted to trust him. But was it Haben she wanted to trust? Or was she scared, and isolated, and grieving, and wanted to trust anyone? Her mother had warned her. Almost daily. Can’t trust the boys; can’t trust the toms. They don’t think right. The Change comes and they smell your sex and they show up from nowhere to take, and then they leave.
She squeezed the hilt of the rifle. “You need to go away,” she shouted. “It’s night and the moon is full.”
Q: Romance readers have a lot of choices these days. What makes Queen of the Hollow stand out in the crowd?
A: I think readers will enjoy this book because it is a rather unusual, contemporary take on shifter stories. It’s set in the Appalachian Mountains where legends of mountain lions still roaming the hillsides have persisted for the last hundred years. This is a story of one possible explanation. The book is a quick read, with an easy southern turn to the language, and promises to be the first in a series.
Q: We like to include our favorite quote in our reviews of the books we read. What is your favorite quote from Queen of the Hollow?
A: My favorite quote from Queen of the Hollow is:
She could only lift her shoulder and look away and marvel at how her heart pounded when there was no moon out at all over High Lonesome, West Virginia.
About Jacci DeVera
Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachia herself, Jacci has an intimate knowledge with the ways of life, the people, the inherent magic, and the languages of the South. She writes fantasy, paranormal, and western romance.