Book Review: A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

A Dark and Hollow Star

Author: Ashley Shuttleworth

Publication Date: 23 February 2021

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Representation: queer (pansexual, lesbian, bisexual, gay, genderfluid)

Pages: 512

Publisher: Simon Teen

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.

When it comes to faeries stories, there definitely has not been a shortage as of late. That being said, these aren’t the medieval faeries that we’ve grown accustomed to. Instead, we have a fantastical faerie story rich with mythology and lore that takes place in the modern world and is unapologetically queer.

This story follows four main teens…and y’all they are ALL queer.

Arlo (questioning but later confirmed as pansexual) is a half fae/half human (iron born) girl who doesn’t understand her abilities and grapples to find some sort of acceptance. Since she’s half human, Arlo’s fae family (minus her mom and cousin) pretend she doesn’t exist. The human world is no better. I also love that Arlo is a huge nerd when it comes to fandoms…she loves manga and video games.

Nausicaä (lesbian) is an ex-Fury who has been banished to the mortal realm after getting revenge when her loved one is killed. She’s incredibly strong, constantly dripping in sarcasm, and stubborn to say the least. She uses her strength to hide her depression, which she freely admits. Gah, I LOVED her so much.

Vehan (bisexual) is the High Prince of the Summer Seelie Court. While Vehan comes off as a spoiled and selfish prince, we quickly learn there’s more to meet the eye especially with a mother like his. His character quickly grew on me, and I enjoyed his POVs.

Aurelian (gay) is Vehan’s appointed guard. Aurelian’s and Vehan’s relationship is complicated to say the least since they were best friends as children and are in love with each other (and the only ones who can’t see that is them).

As far as the story goes, I loved the murder mystery aspect and how it brought our four main characters together. The beginning of the story does take a little bit to get into since you quickly learn the faerie history which includes both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, but after that the pacing stays consistent. The writing is incredibly immersive, so I felt like I was bouncing alongside our characters when they bounced between Canada and the US.

I could keep going and going, but I’ll just wrap up with this is an amazing start to the series, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Thank you to Simon Teen for providing a copy for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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