Review of A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

Release Date: February 23rd 2021

Read: March 10th 2021 – March 14th 2021

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Rep: gay main character, bi main character, lesbian main character, questioning (later to be revealed as pansexual) main character, achillean relationship, sapphic relationship, genderfluid side character, minor character who uses neopronouns

CW: arson, blood/gore, body horror, death of a child, depression, disownment, divorce, drug use/addiction, grief, human trafficking, poverty, psychopathy, stalking, suicide (past, off-page), suicide ideation, toxic relationship/manipulation, trauma/PTSD, violence, gun violence, fantasy bigotry/othering, harry potter references

Goodreads description:

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.

I liked all four of the main characters! We spend slightly more time with the girls, Arlo and Nausicaä, than we do with the boys, so we get to know them a bit better, and I really enjoyed both of their perspectives. Nausicaä is a former fury who hides her grief and truly atrocious mental health behind a veneer of not caring about the world around her, and Arlo is a half fae half human princess who’s mostly just trying to get through the day and decide whether or not she wants to go to university. I liked how they grew closer to each other after their initial mistrust, and gradually came to realise that they make a very good team. The boys, Vehan and Aurelian, get a little less focus, but I ended up loving them both just as much as I did the girls, if not more! Their relationship is more complicated than the girls’ is, and it’s something that I’d definitely be interested in seeing how it develops going forwards in the series.

There’s a lot of infodumping in this book. A lot of the description of the world could’ve been cut or reduced without losing anything of importance. Shuttleworth has built up a large and intricate world, and it’s understandable that they’d want to go into detail painting that picture, but much of it wasn’t necessary and made the book harder to get through. This kinda contributed to me feeling confused for pretty much the whole time I was reading. There was a Lot, and on top of that a lot of it wasn’t all that clear, which just compounded the issue. There was also so much description being thrown at me that I ended up missing what was actually happening, and I’m still not entirely sure how Arlo and Nausicaä ended up so involved with everything that was happening.

Honestly I think this book suffers from being the first in a series. More time gets dedicated to introducing characters and concepts and the world than gets dedicated to the actual story, but the flipside of this is that hopefully later books in this series won’t do that. One of my favourite series of all time does exactly this. The first book on its own is pretty meh, but when the whole series is viewed as one continuous thing it works really well! This book has got me curious enough to be willing to continue it, and hopefully this will follow that pattern.

Also, I got really excited when a minor character using xe/xem/xis pronouns popped up! I think this is the first book I’ve ever read that has a character that uses pronouns other than he/she/they/it, and it made me really really happy!

I would recommend this book to those who like urban fantasy, faeries, and all queer casts! But I’d maybe suggest holding off until more of the series is out first, as this book feels more like the necessary evil for being able to enjoy those than it feels like its own thing.

I received an e-arc through Netgalley in return for an honest review

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About The Author

Photo credit: Ashley Shuttleworth

Ashley Shuttleworth is a young adult fantasy author with a degree in English literature and a slight obsession with The Legend of ZeldaKingdom Hearts, and Final Fantasy. They currently live in Ontario, Canada, with their cat named Zack and a growing collection of cosplay swords.

They can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and on their website.


About The Blogger

El is a 21 year old university student from the UK who loves to read and loves talking about what they read. They particularly like to focus on books featuring lgbtq+ main characters.

3 thoughts on “Review of A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

  1. […] This book felt like a victim of its own ambition. A lot of time gets spent on describing the world, the many people in it, and how it fits into the world as we know it, and as a result there isn’t really enough time spent on the actual plot or why we should care about what’s happening. I do plan on continuing with the series, hopefully all the time spent describing things here means that later installments won’t need to do that. You can read my full review here. […]

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