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A Cruel & Fated Light by Ashley Shuttleworth – ARC Review!

After thwarting the man behind the gruesome ironborn murders—and breaking several fae laws to do so—all Arlo wants is a quiet summer. As the deity of luck’s Hollow Star, capable of bringing about endless possibilities, this shouldn’t be too much to ask, right?

But someone is still trying to summon the mythical Seven Deadly Sins. All signs point to immortal meddling, and if this is the gods’ attempt at returning to the Mortal Realm, it’s Arlo they’re going to use to do it.

When Queen Riadne offers to host Arlo at the Seelie Summer palace, she jumps at the chance. She’ll get to see more of Vehan and Aurelian and perhaps even work out her complicated feelings for the gorgeous ex-Fury, Nausicaä. But no one trusts the infamous Queen of Light, even as Arlo wonders if she’s just been greatly misunderstood.

With the Summer Solstice quickly approaching, everyone expects Riadne to finally challenge the High King for his crown. And as Arlo struggles to get control of her powers and take charge of her destiny, she’ll soon be faced with a choice that won’t only change the fate of the Mortal Realm forever but could condemn it to a cruelty the likes of which the Courts have never known. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

After the events of the last few months, Arlo is looking forward to a quiet and peaceful summer, but even as Luck’s Hollow Star she can’t control all possibilities. Someone is still trying to summon the mythical seven deadly sins and Arlo isn’t the type of person to sit back and watch people die. So when she gets an Invite from Riadne, Queen of the Summer court, to spend her summer there with her son Vehan and his friend Aurelian, Arlo jumps at the chance, especially when Arlo learns she will be able to learn about her alchemical powers whilst there. But trouble is brewing between the courts, secrets kept for years are coming into the light and before long Arlo will have to rely on all the different parts of her, hidden and known to make sure her, and her friends have the safe summer they were promised.

If there is one thing Shuttleworth does spectacularly well, it’s writing characters. The main players in this book vary in age but Shuttleworth nails every single one. We get most of the same POV’s from book one: Arlo, Nausicaa, Vehan and Aurelian, but this book also gives us Cel’s POV and I was SO EXCITED because he was my favourite character in the first book. Through his POV, we get to see more of his relationship with Arlo, and his chapters are vital in uncovering some pretty hefty secrets that will impact the overall story massively. I finished this book and instantly wanted to give him a hug, he goes through such a big emotional journey and I’m excited to see what repercussions will come of it in later books. We also get little throwback snippets courtesy of Riadne, these also link in with Cel’s chapters, giving us an insight into her as a child as well as a look into how she turned out to be the vicious and deadly woman she is today.

I said it for the first book and I will say it again, this series is epic in so many ways, but at some points there’s just a little too much going on and it would be so much better with some kind of glossary or Index to make it easier to keep all the courts, different magic beings and systems together. There are Fae, Titans, Gnomes, Sprites, Reapers, I could go on and on, and they all have their own magical powers that play parts in the stories from the courts all having magic linked to their season and members of the Wild Hunt who have the ability to manipulate/remove memories among other things. I just struggled to keep who could do what straight in my head in parts, and I feel like having a glossary would make it so much easier. Through Arlo we also get a deep dive into Alchemy (although this does play a smaller part in this book) and Luck’s magic dice she got when she agreed to become their Hollow Star. Any fans of D&D will certainly love this addition to the magic system, and I have to admit it added another depth to an already intricate magic system.

Similar to book one, A Cruel and Fated light has some truly epic, WTF is going on, on the edge of your seats moments, and these are the parts that I lived for but it has this annoying habit of reaching these peak emotional moments, massive eureka moments and then just does nothing with them. We never get the aftermath, see the fall out, it just jumps ahead to something significantly more mundane & while some people might not mind that I LIVE for those moments, seeing the characters come to realisations, having them deal with the effects of them. Plus for a book which is such a chunk, there is definitely room for us to be able to delve into those moments more. But what Shuttleworth does extremely well in the slower moments is give us meaningful, humorous and sometimes steamy character interactions. Through these, they ensure that we fall in love with every single one of their characters, even those that don’t get much page time (I’m looking at you Lethe) and this ensures that when the big, emotional, impactful moments do hit, we feel them more.

The romance in this series is incredible slow burn, tension filled, humorous and all of this is thanks to how well Shuttleworth writes their characters. Arlo and Vehan are such stereotypical teenagers, fawning over their love interests, even in the moments where being distracted because of how good Nausicaa or Aurelian looks could cost them their lives… seriously though guys, I get they look hot all sword wielding and broody but check you’re not gonna get your head lobbed off before you stop and look. If you’re a fan of the grumpy/sunshine dynamic, forbidden love, longing glances and meddling friends who just do not give a shit what issues you have then you will LOVE this book and both of the relationships take a slightly steamier turn in this book.

This series is truly epic and, after the absolute shocker of an ending… seriously though, I’m still not ready to forgive Shuttleworth for it yet… I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book! If you love incredibly realistic characters, yes even the badass immortal, intricate magic systems and plenty of mystery and intrigue, make sure you check this series out.

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