Book review: The Hollow Heart (Forgotten Gods #2) by Marie Rutkoski

Published September 14th 2021 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux


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.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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 original 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.

3 thoughts on “Book review: The Hollow Heart (Forgotten Gods #2) by Marie Rutkoski

  1. This is going to be a pickle… I loved The Midnight Lie, but I haven’t read the original trilogy… now I am thinking I should wait to read The Hollow Heart and pick up the trilogy first… This is going to take a while.

    Thanks for sharing this review!!

    Liked by 1 person

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