|| Book Review || A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth ||
Genre: Fantasy, Fae, LGBT
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: February 23rd 2021
Choose your player.
The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.
For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.
Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?
Wish them luck. They’re going to need it.
A Dark and Hollow Star is a book that I expected to fall absolutely head over heels in love with.
It looks to have everything that I love in a book including a fantastic band of misfits with lots of representation, plenty of sass and sarcasm, fae, magic, action etc so what did I actually think?
Well the book did have all of that but there was something missing, some essential spark to make this book really pop for me.
The pacing was pretty slow-average and for at least half of the book nothing was really going on and I found myself quite bored.
The characters were hit and miss for me.
I wasn’t keen on Arlo, she annoyed me with her angst and her “oh woe is me I don’t want to be a hero” stuff. She is a bit of an outcast in the fae world due to her “Iron blood” basically meaning she is half human. She doesn’t think she’s anything special but when she has something that she cares about and wants to protect she becomes a bit of a badass. Not very original for a YA lead character but I didn’t hate her, so there’s that.
“She couldn’t help them.
She wasn’t special, wasn’t brave.
Arlo was just a girl with fancy connections and no real magic of her own, regardless of what Nausicaä thought she knew about her. She was no hero, no chosen saviour, nobody but Arlo Jarsdel, ironborn human.”
Nausicaa though, I really liked and I think I might have enjoyed the book a lot more if we had more chapters from her POV because I think there is a lot more to her than what we have seen so far. A former fury (immortal, daughter of a goddess who has been condemned to live in the mortal world after killing 11 mortals without permission in revenge for her sister’s death).
“You mistake my meaning,” Alecto drawled. “I freely admit to all crimes you accuse me of. I did it, yes. I simply don’t feel guilty about any of it.”
Vehan was a bit average/typical of your usual fae prince (gorgeous, overall good guy & keen to get himself into trouble for the good of the world). He is a very sweet character who is completely head over heels in love with his guard and who cares deeply for the magical community and recklessly investigates the Ironborn murders inevitably bringing the group of four together.
Finally guard and childhood best friend Aurelian totally didn’t do it for me. He is the brooding “I totally don’t care but actually underneath I really do care a hell of a lot” character and I usually like that in a book but with Aurelian I don’t know why but I just didn’t like him. He is fiercely protective of Vehan though which is definitely what you want in a guard!
So yeah when it came to the characters they all sort of fell a little bit flat for me except for Nausicaa/Alecto. The group dynamic is quite fun and there’s wary friendships formed between the four which by the end results in a strong bond. There is lots of sass and sarcasm which I like a lot. Nausicaa being the character with the best one liners that made me laugh quite a lot.
As I mentioned earlier the plot is actually quite slow and everything that is going on with the Ironborn murders is revealed a tiny bit at a time and there are a few “bad guys” with the main villain not really being revealed until the very end of the book although I had my suspicions that things might be heading in that direction fairly early on.
The ending is quite solid and sets you up nicely for the next book but without leaving you on a cliff-hanger.
I will definitely read the next book but I am not in a desperate hurry.
I’d rate this one between 3.5 and 4 stars and would recommend to someone who enjoys stories about the fae, sassy/sarcastic humour, pop culture references and LGBT rep!