A Dark and Hollow Star

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth is a fun queer fantasy. Ironborn half-fae are being murdered, and in A Dark and Hollow Star our characters set out to find out why.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From Goodreads:

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 sidhe prince, a lesidhe guard, an ironborn girl, and a former Fury- they seemed less like a serious investigative team and more like the lead-in to some terrible joke.”

Shuttleworth does a fantastic job at bringing in several new elements to the world as we know it. This is the first book in a trilogy, and thus requires a lot of worldbuilding and lore. The four different characters allow for a different perspective in all of this, which helps with the information being provided. However, at times it did feel overwhelming and slowed down my usual reading process due to the amount of information provided.

“The girl was strong, and she was beautiful, and most of all she was frightening.”

While there are many books about Fae being written these days, this book takes a fun twist on the classic tale. I don’t mean in simply breaking the rules that the fae are already understood to be had, but in adding to them and creating a universe of their own. The inclusion of deities and immortals, with fae being mortals, was a unique and fun choice.

“I just want to protect someone the way no one wants to protect me.”

These characters were individually very fleshed out. Of course, I have my favorites, Nausicaa being most definitely one of them. The clever wit combined with the nervous kindness of Arlo was fantastic to read about. The boys have a little more trauma and history to their relationship, and I’m hoping that in the next book we get more information on that. All in all, though, all of them were fantastic to read and I loved them dearly. I was repeatedly sending quotes to my immediate friend group to drag ourselves as these characters.

“You’re…something else, Arlo Jarsdel. But you’re also weird as fuck.”

The overall plot was unique in that it was a thriller with fantasy aspects without being cheesy. So often these kinds of books easily take on a cheesy factor, but this book escaped that fate. The inclusion of various references from modern media, and the dungeons and dragons play as well was incredibly fun. I’m excited to see how things turn out for the quad, and what the future holds most especially for Aurelian and Vehan. This book felt like a lot of groundwork being laid out for a very wonderful rest of a series.

“And damn, Aurelian loved him. Unfortunately, Vehan loved him too.”

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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