The Hollow Boys

The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1

Young Adult - Fantasy - Urban
493 Pages
Reviewed on 12/05/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lexie Fox for Readers' Favorite

The Hollow Boys is the opening installment in Douglas Smith’s Dream Rider Saga series, an urban fantasy aimed at young adult readers. The book follows Will Dreycott, a teenager with the power to walk through the dreams of others. Cursed with a crippling fear that prevents him from leaving his home, the comics he writes about his adventures earn him enough to build a comfortable home in the center of a city he is too scared to walk around. When two other gifted orphans stumble upon a case of children disappearing, Will joined them in searching for those who have been taken.

Adventure drips off every single page of this book, with high-stakes action, novel characters, and world-building coming together to create a rollercoaster that feels like a blockbuster comic book experience. Douglas Smith has created a highly original spin on the classic urban fantasy and superhero tropes with which most readers will be familiar, stamping his identity on the genre while opening what I’m confident will be an equally exciting series. The absorbing prose draws the reader deep into this world. The wonderfully realized characterizations of Will and Case in particular give a layer of narrative nuance to The Hollow Boys as their flaws and strengths are explored. Each has their often unpredictable influence on the direction the story takes. As the opening novel of a series, this story makes all the right moves to encourage readers to emotionally invest in the journey being undertaken, then promptly blows their socks off as that journey unfolds.

Vincent Dublado

Douglas Smith welcomes you to an exciting alternative to your superhero entertainment fare in The Hollow Boys, the first book in The Dream Rider Saga series. At the age of seventeen, Will Dreycott is already a superhero in his dreams and also in everybody else’s. He is the Dream Rider, a metahuman with the ability to walk into anybody’s dreams and hunt for criminals. His power can be traced back eight years to when his parents had undertaken an expedition into the Peruvian high jungle in the Andes to retrieve an artifact. However, his superpower comes with a curse that he has to overcome. This is an origin story that immediately tests Will’s mettle. As street children continue to vanish, Case, a street child, also possesses a unique ability that she uses to survive and protect her younger brother. When Case breaks into Will’s property, the stakes become higher for the two of them as they confront an ancient evil.

When you think of superheroes, the first thing that comes to mind is the comic book medium and the film adaptation franchise that goes with it. Having written an unpublished superhero novel, I respect and admire authors like Douglas Smith. He is one of those rare authors who are not afraid to tackle the superhero theme even if DC and Marvel dominate the genre. They cannot exclude the creativity and imagination of others out there, who have something new to offer in a world where everything is saturated by commercialism, including our beloved superheroes. What makes Smith’s work a page-turner is that it is cerebral, with a written narrative that is the sole tool for describing the action. Dreycott is one superhero you will grow to love. Superhero fans in search of an alternative should check out The Hollow Boys, and it may entice you to invest in a promising new series.

Alex Ndirangu

The Hollow Boys: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1 by Douglas Smith is a supernatural, action-packed work. Welcome to Dream! This is a world built from the dreams of sleepers around the world. Whenever you are lost or in danger in the real world, all you have to do is sleep, and Will, the Dream Rider, will find you and figure out a way to rescue you. Will's job just got a lot harder. In the deep of the night, an ancient evil lurks in the streets, seeking to abduct street kids. One night, it found its way into an abandoned church, "the home" for Case and her 12-year-old brother, Fader. She escapes, but her brother is captured. Fader is all she has, and if she is to get him back, she has to survive this horrible night. During her escape, Case breaks into Will's premises. Will is the only hope for saving Fader and the other missing kids, but he suffers from severe agoraphobia and can't go out onto the streets where evil looms.

Although I've read many hero-villain stories, The Hollow Boys was unusual and captivating. The plot is narrated with impressive skill, transporting you into the setting. You will find yourself gasping as Case pulls up, just in time to avoid being hit by an oncoming car, and even love how she manages to steal dinner for herself and Fader without alerting the keen eyes of the vendor. You'll also enjoy the scenes in which Will enters Dream. There are some dangerous creatures here, but you can always wake up if they try to touch you. The characters are well-developed, and you appreciate seeing the relationships grow. Case, who has lived a tough life in the streets, meets Will, who is a billionaire at seventeen. You may wonder what kind of relationship will develop between them. Of course, there will be times when they disagree, but they will sort out their differences. They have to. Douglas Smith brought out something special in this work. Whether 16 or 60, any reader will find a unique aspect to enjoy here.

Essien Asian

When his parents disappear while on an expedition, William Dreycott becomes the sole heir to the vast fortune they leave behind. He was a part of that expedition and has no memories of the details, except he is left with one unexplained ailment that stays with him like a shadow. He now suffers from a rare case of agoraphobia, which prevents him from leaving the building he stays in. That does not stop him from helping individuals using his equally mysterious superhuman abilities. When street urchins start going missing, all leads point to a mysterious duo with infernal plans of global domination. It is up to William to stop them before it is too late in Douglas Smith's The Hollow Boys.

Metaphysical activity meets detective work in The Hollow Boys. The storyline is intriguing as it combines a standard mystery with a class in all things concerning the astral plane. Douglas Smith uses a direct style when telling his story, immersing the reader in William's adventures with his attention to even the slightest of details. The pace of the novel picks up evenly as it progresses and the interactions between the characters are clear and easily followed. The blossoming romantic subplot is guaranteed to attract romance genre aficionados to what is otherwise an adventure novel. Douglas Smith's The Hollow Boys promises mystery and action from the onset and duly delivers on this, with a balanced dose of romance stylishly rounding off this lovely work of genius. I look forward to its sequel.