A Dark And Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

*Spoiler free*

Thank you so much to Simon Pulse and NetGalley for the e-ARC!

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 have a complicated relationship with fae books. I’m undeniably drawn to them. Whenever I hear about a fae book, I want to jump on it. But, I find myself not liking a lot of them. So, of course, I wanted to jump on this book. I knew it was fae and I knew it could go either love or hate for me, but it sounded too good and too queer for me to pass up. The more I thought about it, four queer teens trying to stop a war between realms caught up in the mystery of gruesome murders, the more eager I was to read it. Trigger warnings.

I loved this book. I loved this book so much. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted out of a fae book and makes me want to throw it at everybody who loves a certain very popular fae series. Truly, this book is a masterpiece.

One thing I was wary about, was the fact that this book would take place both in the real world and a fantasy one. I’ve found that mixing those two doesn’t usually work for me. I think it’s because I love fantasy elements, fantasy lore, and fantasy worlds, that I feel pulled out them when the real world is mixed in. So, it’s a really huge deal when I say that I loved this blending of the real and a fantasy world. Like, it was so done well. It’s a part of the book that made it so amazing to me. As aspect that I usually don’t like. That’s how good this author and this book are! The fantasy and real world are seamlessly blended together to create something that is intricate and fascinating.

This world also included the fae! Obviously haha. I dunno what it was about Shuttleworth’s fae that spoke to me so much, but they did. I didn’t have any of the qualms that I usually do with fae books. They felt harder, more sturdy in their make up and what made them tick. Plus, I think because I liked how the worlds were woven together so much, that it made me like what made up the fae themselves even more. More maybe Shuttleworth is just an incredible author whose books are just straight up my alley! The point is, these fae were gorgeous and incredibly written.

Alright, we’re delving into characters. To start off, this book is really freaking queer. Like, I’m pretty sure most of the characters are queer. Plus, they’re all really, really great. And, I want so many of them to kiss haha. Arlo is so human (even though she does have fae parentage). She doesn’t want to be a hero, she gets freaked out when faced with things that want to kill her, and she sometimes gets frustrated with big huge things, things the adults should be handling, that are thrown her way. Nos was fury and fire. She’s hurting and she hides behind chaos and sharp barbs of sarcasm. But she’s also wonderful, with all her spikes and anger. Vehan is lonely. He wants to do good and he wants people to like him. Aurelian has such heavy burdens to carry. He’s stoic, but his emotions rage fiercely beneath the surface.

And those are just the four main, POV characters. They each have their own bubble, their own lives that they walk through. They have their own relationships and those characters were just as brilliant as the main characters.

The writing is breathtaking. It weaves a picture that’s incredibly vivid and just left me in awe most of the time.

These converging circles were one of my favorite parts of the book. So many circles coming together to create something bigger. So, that leads me to the plot. It was complicated, vast, intricately woven, and had me gasping at even the smallest details that were revealed. It’s a book where many pieces are in play and are constantly moving. There’s hidden plots within hidden plots, pawns hidden from sight, and players not even seen on the board. Really, it’s just brilliant.

I think one of the best things about this book, and there’s a lot of best things, is how everything leads to something bigger. The tangle of threads is still yet unraveled. There’s more to come, there’s an air of mystery that’s left on the last page, there’s secrets still yet to be discovered. It shows just how well done this book is, laying out the ground pieces and making it seem like a castle, only to pull back to see the rest of the framework of what’s to come.

All in all, this was a book I fell head over heels in love with. It’s incredible. It’s dark and emotional and gorgeous and just all around amazing. I could go on and on about how much I truly adored this book. I won’t make you suffer through that, but just know, that this book is really, really good.

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