A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth #bookreview #urbanfantasy #YA

The Cruel Prince meets City of Bones in this thrilling urban fantasy set in the magical underworld of Toronto that follows a queer cast of characters racing to stop a serial killer whose crimes could expose the hidden world of faeries to humans.

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.

One of the biggest reasons I requested this book from NetGalley was the diverse cast of queer characters. And I wasn’t disappointed – the representation is outstanding.

I haven’t read many books involving the fae, so I always appreciate when the author doesn’t assume readers know all the ‘rules’. I can’t say I’ve ever read a fantasy novel set in Canada (Toronto), so it was a very welcome change. With this being urban fantasy, the teen fae come across as genuine, mentioning pop culture, hanging out at coffee houses, texting each other, and generally getting into trouble with their parents. I have to commend the author for getting me to see and understand so much about these characters in just a few sentences. Other authors I’ve come across have written paragraphs of description, and I’d still feel like I didn’t know the characters even close to this level.

At the beginning of the story, most of the main characters are in different locations, and I enjoyed getting to know each of them (Arlo, Nausicaa, Vehan, and Aurelian) and their personalities through their different POVs before they joined together later in the story. All the POVs are very distinct and when I set the book down and came back to it later, I immediately knew who was speaking. The author also gives a POV of the villain – it was interesting being in his head and getting glimpses of what was going on with the murders of iron-born teens.

Snarky characters capture my heart every time, so Nausicaa was an immediate favorite for me. She’s dark and dangerous, but there’s a good heart inside – buried waaayyy down deep, but it’s there. Celadon, who gave me plenty of laughs, is also at the top of my list, and I would have loved more of him.

External conflict abounds – murders, a brewing war, secrets about Arlo and her magic – but a good bit of internal conflict with each character also contributes to a richly layered plot. It’s not really a secret who the villains are in this novel, but there’s a reveal at the end that isn’t that shocking. This person is rotten to the core, and I hope very bad and painful things happen to them in the next book. Just sayin’.

The popular comp titles are very appropriate, so fans of both The Cruel Prince and City of Bones should enjoy this series. I’d highly recommend it to fantasy fans looking for more diverse reads.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

28 thoughts on “A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth #bookreview #urbanfantasy #YA

  1. I love snarky characters too – could it be because I tend to have a bit of snarkiness in me too…ok, maybe more than a bit 🙂 This book sounds wonderful, and since I did enjoy City of Bones, I’m thinking I would like it. Wonderful review, Teri!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sophie @BewareOfTheReader

    I love that you wish very bad and rotten things to happen to the villain lol it means that you indeed were very invested in the story! Excellent review Teri!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a wonderful debut, Diana. I’ve read books where I have to backtrack to see who’s speaking, but it certainly wasn’t the case with these characters. All were very distinct and their personalities came through very easily with their dialogue or internal thoughts.

      Liked by 2 people

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