ARC Review: A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR by Ashley Shuttleworth

I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in yellow on textured blue next to winged girl with sword
Genre: Urban/paranormal Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 1.5 stars
Series: yes - first book of duology


Book cover for A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR: title in gold beneath a winged girl holding a sword

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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


This book comes under the “Why did I request this on NetGalley?” category. I do not get along with contemporary, urban, or paranormal fantasy. Most of the description is a list of tropes I’m not a big fan of, but for some reason I requested it, so I read it.

It was more or less what I was expecting – it’s not for me.

The main issue I had was struggling to connect with the characters. There were several reasons why – the first being that the characters are not entwinned from the start, and I need that for large cast books. If they’re separate for a while, there’s the chance that I’ll forget about some of them, and will almost certainly not care about several. I will automatically latch onto the first POV character I read, and if another character isn’t somehow linked to them from the get go (personally or by an obvious plot point) then I simply won’t care about them as everything revolves around that first POV.

To compound this issue, the chapters are very long and not evenly distributed. Of the four POVs, Arlo gets the most attention, and two others are hardly present at the start. With the chapters being so long, I hit the 20% mark, when one character gets his second appearance, and had completely forgotten he existed. This was also the character whose sections were added to the end of other chapters, rather than marked out the way the others’ were, so it took me a while to realise that he was supposed to be another character in another place, not a continuation, which confused me a lot at first!

As for the characters themselves, they felt like pretty cliche characters. Take Arlo, the main character (I think). She’s a half human, half fae – and feels out of place in both worlds and sneered upon as she tries to exist between the real world and the hidden world. It felt like her introduction leant too heavily on that, that there wasn’t else to her character at the crucial set up, so she felt very dimensionless and flat.

The fallen fury was vengeful in the prologue, but then just weary and “I’m going to be a pain, but more because that’s what I’ve become” in the main book, which is not a character type I like. There were two guys, but I can’t really remember them because of how little there were in that start, so it was always a bit of a shock when they came up in the book. A “oh yeah, you’re in this too”.

With such troubles connecting to the characters, I struggled to get invested into the plot too, as I didn’t care for the characters so they could go into danger without me caring.

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