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A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth – Book Review & Buddy Read!

Goodreads Synopsis.

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.

My review.

Susan and I are back with our buddy reads! I’ve missed these so much, and we had a lot of fun taking about A Dark and Hollow Star. As usual those pesky time zones get in the way so I will link to Susan’s review once posted!

I’ve decided that I love the Fae! I love the unique twist this book put on something that is somewhat prevalent in YA fantasy atm, and with a fantastic bunch of characters and an intricately woven plot that keeps you guessing, A Dark and Hollow Star has cemented itself as one of my favourite books of the year. Big thank you to Hodder Books and Netgalley for the free review copy. I can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Nausicaä was so sure that she would be sentenced to death after revenging the death of her Fury sister, what she didn’t expect was to be sent to the mortal world to live out her immortal life. Dubbed the ‘Dark Star’ she causes as much trouble as possible to the Fae and other mythical creatures who live alongside the humans, determined that if she pushes them far enough her immortal brethren will end her like she wanted in the first place. In her bid to put herself in an early grave she starts investigating the killing of ‘Iron Borns’ Fae born from mixed blood, but her investigation brings her into contact with Arlo an Iron Born who is worried that no one is taking the deaths seriously. Their first meeting gets a little…heated. Nausicaä warns Arlo off looking into the case, but Arlo is determined to look into the deaths so the pair reluctantly team up. Prince Vehan of the Summer Court lives a life of luxury, wanting for nothing. But he has a secret, something that links him to the deaths of the Iron Born, something that might prove fatal. Alongside his once friend and now protector, Aurelian, he follows leads looking into the deaths leading him on Goblin chases and to meetings with annoying and hot headed immortals. But there is something bigger at work, something darker, something years in the making, and before the gang know it they will get dragged in to something so above their heads, they will be lucky to make it out alive.

If there’s one thing that will cement my love for a book its a brilliant and diverse cast of characters, something that Ashley Shuttleworth delivers in spades in A Dark and Hollow Star. From our four MC’s to a well developed cast of side characters, there is someone for everyone to love… and more than enough for you to hate as well, one in particular who I would quite happily throw off a cliff. Nausicaä, Arlo, Vehan and Aurelian couldn’t make a weirder bunch; an immortal, an Iron Born, a Price of Seelie and his protector. They would certainly draw eyes walking down the street together, but their differences, both in power and personality, and the secrets they keep make them uniquely suited to bring down the killer. My favourite of the side characters is Celadon, Arlo’s Uncle, though with the whole Fae ageing thing is more like her big brother. They are incredibly close, and he is overly protective of her, especially with her lack of magic meaning she is not so great at protecting herself. Their relationship is just hilarious and I couldn’t get enough of their scenes together. I’m a little said that he didn’t get a POV in this book, but hopefully we will get one in book 2. There was another character, one I can’t say too much about with spoiling certain plot points, but I just loved the scenes they were in. I’m still not 100% sure if they are good or bad, but can’t wait for more of them in the second book.

A Dark and Hollow Star brings us a perfect blend of the magical and the mundane. In this world the Fae and other magical beings live hidden alongside humans. We have 8 courts, four Seelie and four Unseelie, Unseelie being seen as ‘lesser’ and Iron Born the lowest of the low coming from Fae and human parents. There is a lot of take in, a lot of castes of Fae as well as other magical beings but Shuttleworth does a great job of introducing you to them bit by bit. There are no major info dumps, you get the information as and when needed which kept the story flowing. As well as the magical world of the Fae, Shuttleworth graces us with a multitude of pop culture references from Harry Potter to D and D. Nerds, of which I count myself, will love seeing all the little references dotted in, made even funnier by the explanations needed for certain characters to understand them. The really unique thing about this book is it being set in the modern world, with all the modern convenience’s and language that we are accustomed too. Shuttleworth uses this to her advantage making the character’s so unbelievably relatable, even the 300 year old immortal.

If you love a good ‘idiots in love’ and would like ‘grumpy immortal + sweet fae’ plus ALL the pining, then this is the book for you. There was angst and pining… did I mention the pining, and they were all so sweet and utterly useless at expressing their feelings. Nausicaä has almost sworn off love, being immortal tends to put a damper on the relationships when she knows she will more than likely outlive them, but there is something about Arlo, this girl who has been told she is useless, not even worth calling Fae, yet is determined to help those in need and be a friend… even to the grumpy immortal, that slowly wares away at Nausicaä’s walls. Vehan has grown up with everything, everything that is except the heart of the boy he loves. He doesn’t know the reason behind Aurelian’s sudden shift in behaviour, but just wishes he would look at him like he used to. Aurelian loves the Prince, but for reasons has had to hide his affections putting a wall behind them that is growing too large to hurdle. There were times when I wanted to jump into the book and hit one of them on the head, or found myself shouting ‘just kiss already’ rather loudly… whilst at work… but when I found out the reasons behind their actions I just wanted to give them a massive hug.

A Dark and Hollow Star is an absolute chunk. But Shuttleworth manages to give us a intricate and fast moving plot, whilst also introducing us to the complexity of the world she has created so the over 500 pages absolutely fly past. The main plot of this book is relatively tied up by the end, but there are plenty of unanswered questions, as well as one shocking twisty ending that had me cursing the authors name (seriously that character better die in book 2!) that will make you extremely eager to get your hands on the next instalment. If I had to nit pick? A glossary or Index would come in incredibly handy. There were a lot of different magical beings, castes of Fae as well as families and magic system. At times I had to flick back pages to make sure I was on the right train of thought for who characters were etc. Ultimately, this didn’t detract from my overall love of the book, and boy did I love it! My Third 5 star read of 2021, and a book that will definitely be making it’s way onto my favourite reads of the year list.

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