Hollow Chest Blog Tour & Giveaway!

About the Book

Debut author Brita Sandstrom arrives with a sweeping, unforgettable historical ghost story of the darkness around and inside us, and the courage it takes to keep hope alive.


Charlie has been having nightmares. Eyes watching him in the night, claws on his chest, holding him down. His dreams have been haunted for years, ever since German bombs rained down on London, taking his father’s life, taking his city’s spirit, taking his beloved brother, Theo, off to war in France.


Now Charlie is left to take care of his grandpa Fitz while his mother works, waiting for the day when Theo will come home. And with World War II nearly won, that day is almost here. Grandpa Fitz warns Charlie that soldiers sometimes come back missing a piece of themselves, but Charlie isn’t worried. Whatever Theo has lost, Charlie will help him find it.


When Theo finally does return, though, he is cold and distant. But Charlie refuses to accept that the brother he knew is gone, and soon, he discovers the reason for his brother’s change: war wolves. These are terrifying ancient beasts who consume the hearts of those broken by grief.


The wolves have followed soldiers back home from the front. And if Charlie truly wants to save Theo, he’s going to have to find them and get his brother’s heart back. But can a heart that’s been eaten ever be replaced?

My Thoughts

Historical fiction and fantasy are easily two of my favorite genres, so when I was asked if I'd be interested in reading a debut novel that is a "lyrical historical fantasy" my answer was immediately: yes. And, as I often am when offered a Walden Pond published book, I'm so glad I agreed.

There is so much to unpack in this story. It would take me ages to fully give this story justice. Look beneath the historical backdrop, past the ghostly creatures haunting the broken, and beyond even the characters themselves, and you will find yourself. Brita has assembled a cast of characters that will be sure to hold a mirror to an aspect of you. Be it the boy trying to hold a family together earlier than he should have to, or a mother that is doing all she can to move on and provide for her loved ones, an old man that has given part of himself to his country, a young man split between two realities, or someone struggling to survive day by day, we are all in there, doing our best to navigate when things feel like they will almost be too much. And most of all, the bond between siblings.

A story that has ghostly wolves tracking down the broken hearted to relieve them of their pain, to consume their hearts, is terrifying. What lurks out there to harm us, or to save us? The characters often tell stories to one another, stories with lessons and magic. Is it easier to process the notion of people taking too much emotional energy from you when it's told as a story of a baker giving and giving his love until there is none left for himself? Perhaps. 

What a powerful story this would be to read in a book group. There is so much to discuss and ponder. Desperation, courage, unwavering love. Nightmares and hopes, losses and healing. Brita paints a thorough picture of London after the Blitz, with broken buildings reflected in the character's own selves.

I hope you find your way to this story, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, Minnesota will host a Zoom launch event for Hollow Chest on Tuesday, June 8 at 6:30 PM CDT featuring Brita Sandstrom in conversation with Anne Ursu. You can register for the event here.



June 7 Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub

June 8 Bluestocking Thinking @bluesockgirl

June 9 Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers @grgenius

June 10 Teachers Who Read @teachers_read

June 11 Charlotte’s Library @charlotteslibrary

June 13 Storymamas @storymamas

June 14 A Library Mama @alibrarymama

June 15 Writer’s Rumpus @kirsticall

Thanks for stopping by!


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