Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking those links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.A Dark and Hollow Star (A Dark and Hollow Star, #1) by Ashley Shuttleworth
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on February 23, 2021
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Urban Fantasy, LGBTQ
Format: eBook (511 pages)
Purchase: Amazon • IndieBound
Add Book: Goodreads • Bookhype
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.
Proceed With Caution:
This book lists the following content warnings: anger, arson, blood/gore, body horror (minor), death of a child, depression, disownment, divorce, drug use/addiction, grief/grieving, human tracking, poverty, psychopathy, stalking, suicide (past, off page), suicidal ideation, toxic relationship/manipulation, trauma/PTSD, racism, violence/gun violence.
A Dark and Hollow Star follows four Fae teenagers. Well, one looks like a Fae teenager, but she’s actually a centuries old Fury who has been banished to the mortal realm. The other three are out to investigate the mysterious deaths of half-fae kids and the disappearances of humans. It’s set partially in Toronto and partially in Las Vegas, homes to two of the Fae courts.
I wanted to love A Dark and Hollow Star, with its all-queer cast and serial killer plotline. Sadly, it’s long and confusing and I wasn’t motivated to read it. I’d finish a chapter, set it down, and not really want to pick it up again. It took awhile for me to settle into the story because we’ve got five POVs, numerous side characters, and multiple locations which straddle with the Fae realm and the human realm. The world-building is also all over the place with some info-dumps along with things that are barely explained. We’re bombarded with names, places, politics, biology, magic rules and laws, and just sooo much!
A Dark and Hollow Star‘s plot was also quite messy. The focus is on this killer who is taking humans off the streets and doing who knows what to them. They’re also killing half-fae children right in public, but no one knows who it is, why they’re doing, and no one seems to care. Except for Arlo and Vehan. Arlo is half-fae, so of course she has reason to be concerned especially when the murders start up in Toronto. Meanwhile, Vehan is a prince in Las Vegas and he wants to investigate because he has the same markings the victims had, but was always lead to believe were scars from infancy. How does any of this connect? Well, the characters don’t even meet until fairly late in the book and it felt forced rather than a natural progression of the plot.
Another aspect of A Dark and Hollow Star which felt forced was all of the pop culture references. There are some fun ones, like indirectly quoting Twilight. But then actual things are named such as Playstation, Star Trek, Mario, and Dungeons and Dragons. It felt out of place and like random name dropping to be cool. The DnD angle was taken even further when Arlo is gifted a special die, which conveniently lets her “win” at challenges. Her options literally appear out of thin air like she’s reading a screen. It’s so weird and took me out of the story. I do think the magical die could have been interesting if they had been integrated more subtly.
I don’t know. A Dark and Hollow Star was just a mess to me. There’s a lot of great ideas here, but nothing really came together in a way that made sense. Even the villain wasn’t that intriguing, since we get random chapters from his POV. It’s enough to know exactly who he is, but not enough for us to get invested. He still has the typical villain monologue because the characters need to know what he was up to as well. It was just overly wordy.