Faeries and Disaster Queer Teens: A Dark and Hollow Star Review

I love fantasy, and I love mysteries. So when I heard about an urban fantasy where four teens have to catch a serial killer, featuring fae and plenty of LGBTQ+ representation, I knew I had to have it -- and mercifully, the Netgalley gods granted my wish!

This book is out today, so it's time to spill the tea! Let's get into it ...

Book Title: A Dark and Hollow Star
Author: Ashley Shuttleworth
Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Number of Pages (According to Goodreads): 512
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Book description (from Goodreads):

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.

Like the description says, the story follows three fae teens (and one prickly immortal) as they band together to solve the mystery of who’s responsible for the serial murders of half-human, half-fae children. Along the way, there’s friendship, romance, and plenty of fantasy geekery!

A Lush Hidden World

I wasn’t expecting so much worldbuilding from an urban fantasy, but the lush world of the fae courts totally drew me in and made me want to visit! It was really interesting to learn how these magical locations fit in with the city of Toronto, where most of the novel is set.

The fae society and their courts had a lot of complex rules and hierarchies to explore, but I didn't feel like the information came too fast. If anything, I found it to be a great balance of interesting lore and snappy action.

Meet The Squad

The cast of characters were all super loveable, from the sweet and sensitive Arlo to the golden retriever fae boi Vehan to the guarded and fiercely loyal Aurelian. But by far my favorite was NausicaƤ, the stabby lesbian ex-Fury who always has the perfect comeback. I was SCREAMING at some of her lines of dialogue!

Plus, NausicaƤ said “holy forking shirt” at one point, which made me instantly decide this was gonna be a five star read. Seriously, there are pop culture references aplenty in this book that will appease any geek! Not to mention that there's *kind of* a Dungeons and Dragons spin to an important magical artifact.

Trigger Warnings for A Dark and Hollow Star

The author's website lists the content warnings for this book as follows: "anger, arson, blood/gore, body horror (minor), death of a child, depression, disownment, divorce, drug use/addiction, grief/grieving, human trafficking, poverty, psychopathy, stalking, suicide (past, off-page), suicidal ideation, toxic relationship/manipulation, trauma/PTSD, racism, violence/gun violence."

Final Thoughts

Overall, this was a bit of a chonky boi, but it’s worth every page! There’s humor, grit, and a healthy dose of fandom influence to please any YA fantasy fan. Now if a Titan can come and bestow the sequel upon me right now, that would be great :P

A Dark and Hollow Star is available everywhere, so check out the links below if you want to snag your own copy:

Barnes and Noble | Bookshop.org | Amazon | Goodreads

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