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The Hollow Star Saga #1

A Dark and Hollow Star

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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.

512 pages, Hardcover

First published February 23, 2021

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About the author

Ashley Shuttleworth

5 books750 followers
Ashley Shuttleworth was born in Chilliwack, British Columbia and currently lives Ontario. They have a BA (Hons) in English Literature with a minor in Classical History, and spent some time after uni living and teaching in Seoul, South Korea.

When they aren't reading or writing, their favourite pastimes are going to the gym, playing video games (particularly Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Zelda), and piecing together cosplays for conventions.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,677 reviews
Profile Image for Lia Carstairs.
417 reviews2,318 followers
February 11, 2023
edit: looking back this is more of a 3 star for me!


Arlo, Nos, Vehan, Aurelian . . . I'm so ducking in love with them it's not even funny🥺😭

Now the real question is: When's 2022? also plz kill a certain individual who starts with an 'R'

Because I really, really, really need the next book right now.

I don't mean to hype this book too much because the hype can sometimes kill a book BUT SERIOUSLY I LOVE THIS SO MUCH I WOULD DIE FOR THESE GUYS😭 which I definitely was not expecting going into this.

Thank you Ashley for making me feel like this. Now—if any of them are killed, I will be left destroyed.😃 im terrified

In this world, Fae and faeries also live in the human world, while of course, not allowing the humans to discover that magical creatures do in fact exist. (glamour is truly amazing😌)

While the Seelie Court's base is in Nevada—run by their *only* Queen Riadne, the Unseelie Court are the ones who have true power, living in good ol' Toronto, with their High King Azurean.

The way Ashley created this world . . . it leaves me in awe🥺. I love most how this takes place in modern day with Fae heyy that rhymed AND IN TORONTOOOO😭 (and Nevada) All those mentions made me so happy. I actually knew exactly how the scenes looked like whenever they took place ahhhh the feeling is so nice.

I'm so very much in love with everything in this book, but mostly (as I've probably mentioned a million times by now) with THE CHARACTERS-
"What if I don't want to be a hero?"

From the moment I met Arlo Jarsdel, I fell in love with her.
But from the moment I found out that she was a manga/anime fan—

I knew right then and there, I'd lay down my life for this girl. it sounds ridiculous BUT SHE LOVES ANIME SO IDC

I love her and I will not never stop saying how much I love her because this girl is amazing and deserves the world and the respect that some of these idiots cant give.👿 They're all just JEALOUS they cant be an ironborn half-fae, half-human haha suckersss.

Anyways, Arlo is definitely the quiet and reserved type around others, but with those she loves... let's just say that she's very fierce and annoyingly persistent when she wants something.

"One hundred and sixteen years ago, eleven people learned the answer to that question, Vehan Lysterne.

Nausicaä Kraken (aka Nos)—the one that loves to wreak havoc. Literally from page 3 when she told the others off while facing her trial . . . to say that I started to worship this girl is definitely an understatement. Muahahhaha I love a girl who says exactly what's on their mind without a care in the world.

The way she tries to make people think less of her🥺 All that hurt is too much for one to carry alone and I can't wait to see that healing in the next book😭

"It eats at me, because feeling that?
That soul-crushing hopelessness that drowns everything else inside you and tells you you're totally and completely alone, that you're nothing but a tool, a means to an end, a burden, and no one will really miss you when you're gone?
I know exactly what that's like."


I want to MURDER the person who made him feel that way and I know EXACTLY who I should be targeting.👿

Aghh you see what I mean? How can I choose a favourite when they all make me feel like this?!?! I demand that Ashley be sued for the too many feels.🥺

Vehan is too precious and as the prince of Seelie, all he wants to do is protect others and be a future king everyone can rely on.

I am very very sad and especially after that ending, I fear for my life because what's going to happen omgggg that ducking shouldn't happen.

Over my dead body . I want to cry :( wow do i sound crazy

And lastly there's Aurelian Bessel—this guy . . . he acts all grump and uncaring, but to find out the truth about the why behind it and know it's because of that MONSTER...

I'm not being dramatic when I say that DEATH MUST COME FOR THAT MONSTER next book OR ELSE—

Now I love those 4, but I have to say that Celadon Viridian was my favouritee💕 I wish he was a main character too because I'm so hopelessly in love with him. He is the sweetest and most caring cousin to Arlo. I really hope Ashley isn't planning his death or anything . . . because I will be destroyed beyond repair😓

Also, is it weird to say that I actually just adore one of the villains. (at least I'm pretty sure he's a villain?) His plans are a little unclear and he's protecting Arlo sooooo *confusion*

If he's evil and all, well I still love him because he's definitely a really cool villain😏 uh oh pretty soon im gonna be rooting for him too smh
"There's a reason why the Lord of Death himself went out of his way to restrain me."

yup, there's definitely something wrong with me

As you can see, I'm very much in love with practically all the characters in this book (except for that retched monster ofc). The only reason this didn't get 5 stars was bc it was slow at times BUT STILL I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. Ahhh the one regret I have is reading this now, because now I have to wait until 2022 for the next book *cries*

Bottom line: Once you read this, there's no going back >:)

═══*.·:·.☽✧ ✦ ✧☾.·:·.*═══

Eternally grateful to Simon & Schuster Canada for bestowing upon me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
All quotes in this review are subject to change upon release date.
Profile Image for Ashley Shuttleworth.
Author 5 books750 followers
September 15, 2020
edit 06/20: I'm very excited for the world to meet Arlo, Nos, Vehan, and Aurelian, my chaotic children who've come to mean so much to me, just like this story, which is very long and very busy (thank you final Fantasy) and at times was very painful to write, but I’m fiercely proud of what it levelled up to become. I hope you’ll enjoy it. Also, I get asked fairly often what sort of queer rep is in this, so for your curiosity:

Arlo—questioning (later to be confirmed pansexual)

Please be advised of the trigger/content warnings for this story, which will be included in the book. These subjects are all things I’ve tried to handle with care and sensitivity. It's important to talk about uncomfortable issues, especially with our youth, but that discussion should be something you consent to engaging with first and foremost.

CW: 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), suicide ideation, toxic relationship/manipulation, trauma/PTSD, racism, violence/gun violence
Profile Image for J  (Midnight Book Blog).
184 reviews606 followers
February 15, 2023
If I haven’t convinced you to go out and buy 10 copies of this book by the end of my review, I haven’t done it justice.

Plot: Ok, let’s be honest, there are TONS of book about the Faerie being written as of late, but I promise none can compare to this one. There is a perfect mix of Fae/modern world, tons of different mythology, and great LGBTQ+ representation.

Characters: Arlo was just about the most relatable person ever. She was unsure of herself, her powers, and her standing in the world. Nausicaä. WOW. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be her, or was in love with her (I was definitely in love with her). And I’m really curious to see where their relationship goes! I feel like Vehan and Aurelian weren’t the main focus of the story, but their perspectives did add important information for the plot.

Overall: I know this was a gushy review, but guys, I am not easy to impress. I loved the mixture of mythology. The story itself was brilliant. So many pieces were woven together, it didn’t feel like a standard YA fantasy at all. It was more like having an entire series packed into one book, but in the absolute best way possible

Content warnings: murder, suicide, depression (the book contains a full list, but these are the things I thought were heaviest)

1/23: OMG guess who got their first physical ARC?? I am very much fangirling right now

*ARC received in exchange for honest review
Profile Image for theresa.
302 reviews4,371 followers
September 24, 2021
This book is the start of something special. I knew this from the very first page and the feeling never once faded across 500 pages of action, banter, magic and pining. Following four queer teens caught up in a series of brutal, ritualistic murders and forced to work together to solve them, A Dark and Hollow Star brings a startling humanity to the ancient faerie courts and breathes new life into the YA urban fantasy genre.

Why is it always so difficult to review a book you loved? I wish I could leave this review as ‘Absolutely incredible, can’t wait to see where this series goes, loved everything about it. Also, I’ve completely fallen in love with Nausicaä Kraken and am the proud founder of the simping-for-nausicaä club hmu if you want in.’ But apparently that’s not ‘professional’ or even really a ‘review’ so allow me to attempt to write something more coherent.

I loved so many things about this book: the plot and mystery, the worldbuilding, the writing, the casual LGBTQ+ and mental illness rep, the characters and their relationships with each other – whether romantic, platonic, familial or barely able to stand each other but forced to form an alliance to save the world. Everything about this book felt like it was written just for me, combining some of the elements I love most into one gorgeous book (both inside and out).

The worldbuilding was a particular strong point and I can’t wait to explore more of this world in the sequel. The combination of a vibrant modern Toronto setting and all the technology and pop culture of the 21st century with ancient fairy tales and legend created a rich urban fantasy setting. I really enjoyed this interpretation of how the courts of fae could function in our world while still retaining their wildness and magic. The world is expertly fleshed out and developed and I found learning about the different creatures and peoples of faerie, the Seelie and Unseelie courts, the deities and the magic system all really interesting.

Ashley Shuttleworth’s writing was spectacular, both in its ability to gently ease you into this world, giving information where necessary but not overwhelming, and in the authentic dialogue, humour and feelings of the characters. I thought the action scenes were written really well and the tension throughout left me unable to put the book down. The multiple perspectives worked really well with the story and I loved how the different dynamics and pieces of the mystery were explored through them. I also found reading from the antagonist’s perspective really interesting and thought it had the perfect balance of creating understanding of their motivation and even sympathy for them, while also establishing them as the enemy. The main mystery of the murders came together really effectively which created a satisfying conclusion, even as other plotlines opened up and left me desperate for more.

In terms of characters, I loved all four of our main perspectives and really enjoyed reading from them all. I particularly loved Arlo and Nausicaä, who we spent slightly more time with, as I felt I got a chance to know them better but I hope to be able to say the same for Vehan and Aurelian as the series progresses. The character dynamics were so much fun and definitely my favourite part of the story. I loved the banter between them all, as they went from reluctant allies to friends, as well as the blossoming relationships – particularly between Nausicaä and Arlo, who had the sweetest dynamic, even if they started out with a murder accusation. And just because I love them so much, here’s a wee bit about each of their characters:

‘“What if I don’t want to be a hero?”’

Arlo Jarsdel is an ironborn: part human, part fae and not particularly blessed in the magic department. She’s gentle and sweet and quite content with a regular – or as regular as possible when you’re part fae and best friends / cousins with a prince – life, she’s loveably naïve and awkward at times and struggles with feeling useless in a society where magical ability is everything. I adored her character right from the start and found her easy to root for and relate to and loved seeing her character grow and develop during the book as she realised her worth.

“Nausicaä was still gorgeous without her glamour, but the nine rings of hell couldn’t come up with anything more terrible than the way her grin split across her face like razor wire catching skin and tearing it apart.”

Nausicaä Kraken (what a name!) was once a terrifying, powerful fury, before her powers were stripped and she was banished to the mortal world. She’s the grumpy to Arlo’s sunshine, the tall to her small, the sword-weilding lesbian of my dreams and determined to wreak havoc. She’s simultaneously the sarcastic, badass, leather-clad typical YA love interest (finally I understand the appeal!) and a lonely young woman struggling with grief and depression who would do anything for those she loves. She’s the type to nickname her friends (and, well, everyone – whether they like it or not), drink unicorn frappuccinos and know all of Arlo’s nerdy references (and even make some of her own). Just look at her on the cover and tell me you’re not already a little in love!

As much as I loved this book, I want to bring attention to the lack of racial diversity by linking this review. Toronto is such a diverse, multi-cultural city and unfortunately A Dark and Hollow Star didn’t fully capture this. This is my main criticism of the book and something I’d love to see improved, especially as the LGBTQ+ and mental health representation were so well done: the four main characters were all queer, there were queer and trans side characters, including one who uses neo pronouns and these identities were never a point of conflict. I also particularly admired Nausicaä being open about having depression and going to therapy.

As I’m sure you can tell from this review, I adored A Dark and Hollow Star. This was a fresh and unique take on YA urban fantasy and faerie stories with queer characters at its forefront. A fun and gritty story, packed full of action and authentic characters, A Dark and Hollow Star has become a new favourite and reminded me why I love fantasy. I can’t wait to see where the story takes us next! (The things I would do to get my hands on the sequel…). And honestly, you need to read this if only to understand why the title makes me feral – it’s so gay guys, so fucking gay.

If you fancy some more memes and reactions to this book, check out my reading thread!

I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter

*finished copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for jenny✨.
578 reviews838 followers
March 1, 2021
No one is more shocked than me at how disappointed I am with my most anticipated read of 2021.

I’m heartbroken. But I am also allowing myself the space to be ambivalent about a book.

I mean, I can’t even begin to describe my euphoria when I first heard the premise of A Dark and Hollow Star. (Though if you want some idea, please scroll to the bottom of my review and take a gander at my yelling and spluttering!)

“Queer ownvoices urban fantasy set in Toronto with serial killers” felt like someone had reached into my bookish soul and made every last one of my wishes into reality. It was surreal. I was rooting for this book with my whole heart.

Which made my dismay all the more profound. But before we get into why, here’s what I want you to know off the bat.

I feel SO strongly—so passionately—about speculative fiction set in Toronto, and Canada more broadly. We are a city, land, and many cultures and communities that deserve representation (beyond the white eurocentric norm). We are rife with magnetizing stories and settings. As Ashley Shuttleworth writes:

Toronto had become an epicenter of the magical community. Creatures of all walks of life had been drawn into its folds…

Moreover, I feel just as—if not even more—strongly about publishing and reading ownvoices queer stories. It is SO IMPORTANT that we read and support queer authors, and queer spec-fic holds an infinitely soft space in my heart.

For these reasons, I think you should read A Dark and Hollow Star. The queer rep was fucking fantastic. As Ashley Shuttleworth says in their review, the four leads are all LGBTQIA+.

Arlo, the half-fae/half-human ironborn girl, is questioning and later confirmed to be pansexual. Nausicaä is lesbian, a centuries-old former-immortal who has been banished to the mortal realm, where she’s been stirring up trouble. Aurelian is gay and a member of the Seelie Summer court; he keeps watch over kind-hearted Vehan, who is bisexual and sweet as heck.

And if that hasn’t convinced you, then I have two words for you: Sapphic. Faeries. 🧚🏻‍♀️

Thank you to the author, NetGalley, and Simon & Schuster Canada for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. I am immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to read my most anticipated 2021 release as an advance copy.


The primary reason I felt so let down by this book is its lack of diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural rep.

How to tell a story of Toronto without grappling with its history of colonialism and diasporic migration? How to write Toronto without including the Black folk, Indigenous peoples, and people of colour at this city’s heart?

I'm not sure. I don't think the story would be complete.

What makes Toronto such a fucking magical city in real life is its incredible, intersectional diversity—of people, cultures, communities, identities.

Toronto’s one of the most multicultural cities in the entire world. It is a space that is defined by the interweaving of peoples, a place that resonated so deeply with me for its expansiveness.

And queer BIPOC have long been at the heart of Toronto's queer community and activism. This is true in spite of their historic lack of visibility and representation in mainstream discourse. For example, Dr. Beverly Bain, a Black queer scholar, speaks about how Black queer folk shaped Pride in Toronto by standing at the forefront of grassroots movements in the 80s, when Toronto police cracked down on the gay community via bathhouse raids. Meanwhile, Richard Fung and Gay Asians of Toronto were one of the first organizations to advocate for queer POC in Toronto, and their efforts as "pioneers of diversity" are integral to Toronto's queer history.

Mind you, I’m not saying Toronto is a perfect space—far from it. Canada has major issues, like all settler states, with systemic injustice and discrimination against BIPOC, queer folk, and other marginalized communities.

But I am saying that the pockets of happiness, resilience, and resistance that I found in Toronto changed my life. In this city, I learned that I didn’t have to conform myself to an ill-fitting—no, painful—white and heternormative default. It was a momentous revelation for me.

And this book didn't capture that diversity, that richness, for me.

Not all of it, at least. Despite the fantastic queer rep, there was no diversity in the ethnicities or cultures represented in A Dark and Hollow Star. There was no acknowledgement of the Indigenous lands on which Toronto was constructed, no recognition of the Indigenous peoples and cultures who are the rich, inextricable foundation and fabric of this city.

From what I could tell (and PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong), all of the major characters in A Dark and Hollow Star were white or white-coded.

The protagonists were all fae of European (mainly English and German) descent. There’s one scene where the book describes how the fae and their Courts moved from England and “settled [in Canada] a little over a century ago.” I know this must've been unintentional, but it just sounded so eerily colonial.

And if some minor characters were described as having darker skin or ethnic-sounding names, this was ultimately arbitrary. Because there was no meaningful incorporation of non-European cultures into the world-building and magic systems in this novel. There was no discussion of Middle Eastern, African, South Asian, East Asian, Latin American epistemologies, to name but a few, even though the majority of Toronto’s population (51.5% in 2016) belongs to a visible minority group. In fact, just under half of all Torontonians are immigrants.

This book did not reflect that.

And I felt profound grief at the loss of this opportunity to represent, celebrate, and champion Toronto’s intersectional diversity in a hyped-up mainstream YA novel.

But at the same time, I think this just further highlights the need for more YA fiction, speculative fiction, queer fiction—more stories, period—set in Toronto. In the course of writing and reflecting on this review, I've come to realize that, despite what I've written above, there is no "complete" or "true" story of Toronto. The responsibility of representing this incredibly multifaceted city should not solely be on the shoulders of Ashley Shuttleworth or A Dark and Hollow Star (or any other single author or novel).

We should be allowed the space for stories like A Dark and Hollow Staras well as stories that feature characters of diverse ethnicities, races, and cultures.

🧚🏻‍♀️ TLDR; While I am disappointed by the lack of diverse racial/ethnic rep in this novel, I don't mean for this to be a scathing criticism of A Dark and Hollow Star. Rather, I write this as a call for publishers like Simon & Schuster Canada to publish more queer and Torontonian stories—to afford queer Torontonians the array of literature and representation that is deserved.


Besides the lack of racial/cultural diversity, my other gripes with this book have to do with the actual prose and storytelling.

Confusing, convoluted worldbuilding.

There were WAY too many info-dumps in this novel. And the irony was that even with all this explicit explanation, I still couldn’t grasp the magic system at the centre.

This was partly because the world-building was neither intuitive nor presented in an easy-to-comprehend manner. For example, "fae" and "faerie" refer to two different types of supernatural beings in this novel (the former resemble humans, while the latter have animal/plant-like characteristics). In all of the fae-related novels I've read so far, the two terms have been used interchangeably, so it was hard to get my head around the idea that in A Dark and Hollow Star they were now two separate entities.

Also, the lore of A Dark and Hollow Star is an erratic mish-mash of legends from disparate (European) cultures. Greek gods, Titans, Furies, faerie (Seelie, UnSeelie, lesidhe, sidhe), trolls, vampires, something called the Wild Hunt—and a Chinese dragon thrown in for good measure…? None of it made sense to me.

Overused YA fantasy tropes and clichés.

This echoes some of the issues I had with Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn. A Dark and Hollow Star relies heavily on YA fantasy clichés, including Capitalization of Everything to Do With World-building (including Maturity, Matured, the Weighing, Sight, Gift, Destroyed, Tracker… the list goes on). There's a dash of the Chosen One trope with Arlo, and an overuse of italics that made the text feel more melodramatic than anything.

Prose doesn’t flow very well for me personally.

The tone of the writing in this novel didn’t really fit the urban fantasy setting imo. It reads with the cadence and diction of high fantasy (awkwardly formal constructions of phrase etc.) when this is urban fantasy. As a result, the prose came off a little stuffy when I would’ve rather it flowed more smoothly like contemporary speech.

I also found the banter/dialogue weirdly juvenile. For example, when Nausicäa says things like “What the shit” and “W-T-Fuck” and “Miss Sassypants,” it felt to me like she had the maturity of a preteen human and not a 300-year-old immortal being.

BOTTOM LINE: To my disappointment, this book didn't capture Toronto—or its diversity of cultures and peoples—like I'd been expecting. NONETHELESS, I still think it’s extremely important to read and support queer ownvoices stories, and A Dark and Hollow Star will surely be a trailblazer for queer spec-fic to come.



Cruel Prince? CHECK. ✅
City of Bones? CHECK. ✅
Set in the 6ix? CHECK. ✅
Serial killer creepiness? CHECK. ✅
Queer author + cast? BOOYAH, CHECK. ✅

I am SO hyped for this I'm shaking
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,948 followers
April 30, 2021

I loved pretty much everything about it. I just wish there was a few things different but for the most part it was great! Now I need to buy the damn hardback! THIS, should have been in my book boxes and the book I skipped for Owlcrate April is now going to be in FairyLoot May and they don’t skip a box!!!!! THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS BOOK, but no, and I know why.

Anyhoo, I’m really looking forward to the next book! Oh, and this cover is everything!!!!!!!!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for katie ❀.
120 reviews477 followers
April 4, 2021
feb 23, 2021 - happy book birthday to this book!!! now, for my late review.

I don't particularly love fae. After the experiences I've had with reading about them in the past, I wasn't sure I wanted to pick up a book with fae again in the distant future. But then I heard about this one. Which sounded more dark, more angsty, and (way) more queer than two particular fae series.* AND IT WAS. it was also so much better, if i may add 😏

*you know what I'm referring to.

A Dark and Hollow Star follows four queer teens as their paths cross and worlds collide (quite literally). It contains faerie cafes, family dynamics, and cinnamon rolls that must be protected at all costs (so smol and so precious)*

*dang it there's no cinnamon roll emoji. love that for me.
Forget that you loved me, if you must, but please . . . do not forget you loved at all, and do not forget you loved so fiercely it made you the best of your name.
This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and I'm excited to say that I was not disappointed in the least.

So. There's:

Arlo, the Soft™ half-fae outcast who's very awkward and unsure of herself. She also loves anime and works in coffee shop!!

Nausicaä, a sarcastic lesbian and a bad girl in black who swings around a katana. AND she's also a banished Fury who's out for revenge, to make things more interesting (my personal favorite of the four 🥺).

Vehan, a bisexual blue-eyed fae prince who's bent on proving his worth to the throne (and may or may not have a gigantic crush on his bodyguard).

Aurelian, protector and childhood friend of Prince Vehan, hider of secrets, a not-so-talkative gay.

All four of these characters are so flawed, but these imperfections are what truly reflect them, and I really loved that.

This is unrelated but this fanart!!! WHO CAN RESIST THEM.

art by @viria94

Magic had its rules, and woe betide anyone who tried to sidestep them.

The writing. It was simply divine and so atmospheric that I wanted to lose myself in it. The story is written in such a vivid way, blending the worlds of faerie and reality seamlessly.

On another note, Jenny's review came to my attention, and I had to think on my opinions again. Every single character in this book is white or white-coded, but like Jenny said, Toronto is full of people of different cultures and identities. Please see her review to learn more on this aspect!

Overall, ADHS was a solid debut that I enjoyed! And although it didn't end on a painful cliffhanger, I'll definitely be watching out for the second book in the series!!*

*ughh slkdfjlskdj i have to wait until 2022 :') also who am i kidding it ended on a (somewhat) huge cliffhanger

other things i loved:
- discussions about mental illness that didn't feel forced (!!!!!)
- casual queer rep (which we desperately need more of)
- vehan & aurelian, who are soft and sad (and quietly yearning for each other)
- arlo & nausicaä (my serotonin levels went 📈📈 every time they interacted aka i needed to go touch some grass)
- celadon, arlo's very supportive cousin; i literally loved him so much <3


feb 13, 2021 - just finished. in shock. all i can say is: be prepared.



Profile Image for Lucie V..
1,012 reviews2,055 followers
March 29, 2022
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley (thank you Simon & Schuster Canada). All thoughts and opinions are my own.

✅ Fae/magic
✅ Band of misfits
✅🆗 Characters
✅🆗 Intrigue/Murders
🆗 Plot/Pace
🆗 Villain

3.5 stars

A sidhe prince, a lesidhe guard, an ironborn girl, and a former Fury – they seemed less like a serious investigative team and more like the lead-in to some terrible joke.

This story revolves around 4 main characters:

“You mistake my meaning,” Alecto drawled. “I freely admit to all crimes you accuse me of. I did it, yes. I simply don’t feel guilty about any of it.”

Alecto is one of the three Furies tasked with upholding the Three Principle of Magic. She is the daughter of Urielle, Goddess of the Elements and Lady of Chaos, and was condemned to live forever among the mortals, after exacting revenge for her sister’s murder and killing 11 mortals. She had to assume a new identity and had been known as Nausicaä Kraken for the last 116 years, or, as some like to call her, the Dark Star. She has been a plague to the magical community. She is fierce, blunt, confident, sassy, and I really liked her.

"What if I don't want to be a hero?"

She couldn’t help them.
She wasn’t special, wasn’t brave.
Arlo was just a girl with fancy connections and no real magic of her own, regardless of what Nausicaä thought she knew about her. She was no hero, no chosen savior, nobody but Arlo Jarsdel, ironborn human.

Arlo Jarsdel is an ironborn (half-human) teenager in a pure-blood fae royal family. Not deemed fae enough by the elitist High Council because of her weak magical abilities and her “impure” blood, she lives as an outcast, her only real friend being her cousin, High Prince Celadon (who I wished was one of the main characters because I really like him, he’s the best). She is an introvert, not believing that she is anything special, but she is fierce when comes the time to defend the ones she cares about. She is not the most original YA character, but I still enjoyed her chapters.

"It eats at me, because feeling that?
That soul-crushing hopelessness that drowns everything else inside you and tells you you're totally and completely alone, that you're nothing but a tool, a means to an end, a burden, and no one will really miss you when you're gone?
I know exactly what that's like."

Vehan is the prince of the Summer court, he is sweet, valiant, and noble, but he loves too much and too deeply for a Fae prince. He spends almost all his time with his steward and childhood best friend, Aurelian (aka, Mr. I-pretend-I-don’t-care-but-I-do-care-way-too-much). Together, they are trying to investigate the series of ironborn murders that have been happening lately. Their path will cross Nausicaä’s and Arlo’s, and it will be up to them to figure out what is happening because the High King of the fae keeps on insisting that the culprit is a human serial killer, that there is nothing he can do, that there is no need for the magical community to investigate.

The dynamic between the 4 main characters is a good mix of wariness, friendship, sarcasm, and even love. They are trying to trust each other and help each other even though they just met for some of them. They go from strangers to a unit built on shaky trust, but they still have each other’s back. Each character is vulnerable, and insecure, even though they try to hide it, and it makes them so much more relatable. They are doubting their worth and their feelings, wondering what awaits them in the future and what there are destined to become. This self-doubt is so human and so real (especially considering that they are teenagers), it made me appreciate this little band of misfits.

“No, no, no – we’re not on the same team,” Nausicaä interrupted. “I’m no hero! Just because I’m not running around turning kids to stone doesn’t mean I’m a fine upstanding citizen like Red and Prince Charmless here, and… I don’t know, what fairy-tale character do you want to be, Aurelian?”
Aurelian cut her a deadly glare.
“And fucking Grumpy.”

The murders are part of a complex scheme that is revealed one tiny step at a time. There is still a lot of intrigues left to be discovered and resolved in the next book. I would have liked it if the characters got together earlier, the first half of the book is a little slow, with lots of details that are not always useful in the story. I might read the next book when it comes out, but since this book does not end with a cliffhanger, I am not in a hurry to read it.

On a side note, I really liked how the Seelie and Unseelie courts are determined by our geographic frontiers. The Canadian territory belongs to a court, western Europe to another court, and so on, and the fae and fairies live among the humans using glamours. The pop-culture references (Harry Potter, Lord of the Ring, Pokemon, Super Mario, etc.) are also very funny and help us connect even more with the characters and the story.

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Profile Image for Cece ❀Rants, Raves &Reviews❀.
261 reviews1,038 followers
Want to read
September 24, 2022
This book has quickly moved onto my To Read list and now looks to be the highlight of year *thank god cuz we all need something to look forward to*


But hear me out....
Not only does the book offer an intriguing plot full of fantastical creatures, fey, and murder which is the ultimate book combo

But it also *seems* to offer genuine representation and not tOkeNiZaTiOn which yall know vexes me to no end.

The cover looks gorgeous. The plot is intriguing. Featuring LGBTQ+ main characters who fully developed with their own goals, adventures, and identities

I genuinely hope that the book community uses this book to promote much-needed conversations, and honestly... I just can't bloody wait for the gorgeous fan art I KNOW is going to come out *pun intended*

Profile Image for anna (½ of readsrainbow).
596 reviews1,843 followers
April 14, 2021
rep: lesbian mc with depression, pan mc, gay mc, bi mc, genderfluid side character
tw: blood, gore, body horror, death, drugs, past suicide, suicide ideation, toxic relationship

there are like 3 thoughts in my head:

1) there is no plot, only nausicaä being super extremely gay for arlo

2) this is like fullmetal alchemist: brotherhood but make it extra gay and also with less war crimes

3) y'all have no clue how gay this title actually is
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,743 reviews5,283 followers
Want to read
September 11, 2020
Queer kids and fae, that’s all I need in life tbh

edited june 2020: and now we have a cover and it is EVERYTHING?!?!?! Oh my gods

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this review copy in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Paige ♠.
293 reviews910 followers
April 18, 2021
A Dark and Hollow Star was overall a good story, but I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.

🆗 I THINK YOU WILL LIKE THIS more than I did if you prefer character-driven stories and don't mind a plethora of worldbuilding. The author did an amazing job with each character's backstory and each character was very well developed, but in my opinion, it came at the expense of an exciting plot to keep me interested

I USUALLY PREFER SINGLE POV to multiple POVs - so having five different POVs was not something I particularly enjoyed because it was difficult for me to feel invested in the characters. But out of the characters so far, Aurelian is surprisingly my favorite!

IT TOOK TOO LONG for everyone to come together. It was almost the 70% mark before all of the characters finally met each other and started working as a team! I think this build-up phase lasted too long because the story definitely became much more interesting after this point

THIS WAS ADVERTISED AS AN LGBT+ urban fantasy and it definitely delivered on that! None of the main characters are heterosexual (I think?), there was mention of gender-neutral deities (deities, not "Gods"!) and it was overall refreshing to see all of this accepted as normal within the world

THE ROMANCE between both couples was superrr slow to build. I don't even think I would really call it slow burn because it was more like a complete lack of romance. Hopefully, there will be more angst/sexual tension in the sequel

I LOVED HOW DND WAS incorporated into the story and I actually felt like some of the pop culture references were pretty funny too, and I normally despise pop culture references. I particularly liked this one:

I, uh, remember the one Solstice years ago when High Prince Celadon gifted my mother a deck of cards with bizarre animals on the front. He told her they were enchanted, and that all she had to do was throw them while shouting their names and the creature she wished to summon would come to her aid. She spent an entire week trying to summon something called ‘Pikachu’ before someone kindly explained to her what Pokémon cards were, and that they weren’t magic.

We'll see how the pop culture references age... but for now, I enjoyed them 😁

Overall, this was a very good introduction to the characters and the world and I think the future books will be better because we've gotten most of the backstories and confusing worldbuilding out of the way. I recommend this if you are looking for a character-driven LGBT+ urban fantasy with slight hints of romance, but likely more romance to come in the sequel(s)
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,226 reviews872 followers
January 28, 2023
nausicaä if you see this im free thursday night are you free thursday night so i can take you out on thursday night if you're free i'd like to hang out thursday night please message me back if you're free thursday night when i am free

Rep: lesbian mc with depression, pan mc, gay mc, bi mc, genderfluid side character
Profile Image for tappkalina.
666 reviews414 followers
November 29, 2022
The sapphics have won this round by far.

The grumpy Fury and the confident femme (half)fae. They are hilarious together and were meant to be. Their chemistry is breaking the walls.

The world is so rich and this is probably the first time in history I agree with the comparison marketing. Yes, this book is perfect for the Shadowhunters' fans. I want it to follow CC's lead and have many companion series, because with this world, the possibilities are endless.

I'm also curious where Vehan and Aurelian's relationship will go, but in my humble opinion Nausicaä and Arlo deserve the spotlight.

This book gets the biggest compliment from me a book can get: it reminded me of why I love reading. 🥰
Profile Image for ☀︎El In Oz☀︎.
560 reviews320 followers
March 26, 2021

Hahah I sadly am pretty disappointed by this book, but I sort of expected that. This is a book that’s an urban fantasy that centers around 4 queer teens and a murder mystery. Honestly I’m so sad that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as some of my other friends did.

I think I’ll start with the positives.
The world is very cool. I like the general idea of it. That being said, the info dumps in this book killed me. Literally every chapter, even the last one, had some info dump on some part of the world. And I get Ashely probably wanted this world to be as detailed as possible, but there was too many things to keep track of.
There’s seelie and unseelie beings, each represented by a different season. Then we have the more general groups of Fae, Faeries and Ironborn. We have also a gazillion different other creatures in this book. We have multiple gods and high beings, so many in fact I’m confused as to who actually is the main ruler of this world. We have a petty squabble over the bone crown when literally Luck is a literal being?? Luck?? Like seriously I couldn’t help but laugh at how dumb half the struggles seemed in this book in the grand scheme of things.

I really loved the writing style. It was very immersive. That being said, it was sometimes too detailed. There were overly long descriptions of rooms that I didn’t need, a general vibe is enough for me. I found myself skipping pages of my e-book because I didn’t need to know the specific colours of the tiles in the room the characters were in.

The characters were overly not my favourite.
Our main character is Arlo, an Ironborn who seems determined to not be anything in life. Seriously this girl will spend pages talking about how she wants to have magic but when she realizes the responsibility and consequences that can come with magic, she suddenly is all ‘I don’t want magic or to be a hero’. I’m sorry I could care less for her.

Nausicaä, aka Nos, is an immortal, sarcastic lesbian that I slowly hated as the book continued. She starts off pretty likeable, with that badass vibe and attitude. She complains about ‘teenagers’ since she’s like 500 or something but she acts the most childish of any of them. She complains all the time and she overall is someone I would probably never be friends with. Her vibe is not my vibe.

Aurelian is just a bland character. The only thing I know about him is that he’s gay and also being threatened apparently. He has like 2 chapters in his POV across the entire book, so we don’t have much chance to get to know him anyways. He’s pretty boring.

Vehan is probably the only MC I didn’t dislike in this book. He’s a cinnamon roll (and if you didn’t know, my type is either a cinnamon roll, anti-hero, or super angsty boy but he’s actually just a sad cinnamon roll) so he gets points for that. He has a small amount of POV’s which is sad because he’s the least annoying.

The best character in this book is ofc Celadon, who doesn’t get nearly enough page time.

I think this book is so slow. Super slow. Probably one of the slower books I’ve ever read. The main characters don’t meet until literally 65% through. Half this book was useless filler and unnecessary scenes that I didn’t care for.

The mystery itself never had any stakes. We’re never given any answers to make it seem like there’s much of an issue. I just didn’t care for the plot much. The finale was super anti climactic.

The villain was so 2-D I laughed. Seriously, there was no real reason for them to be a villain. It’s a typical thirst for power goal. That type of goal is my vibe, but it was super bland here. I just truly didn’t care much.

At the end of the day, I didn’t care much for this book but it was a solid 3 star. I’m not sure if I will read the sequel, we’ll have to see.

(Thanks to Lia for discussing this book with me! It was very fun, and overall I loved some of your thoughts!)
Profile Image for ;3.
441 reviews885 followers
October 30, 2021
not this being set in the 6ix 🥴 also arlo made me so irrationally annoyed for no reason. the weakest link in the group methinks

actually i have one more thing to say—this book made me angry bc of the lack of racial diversity. ur telling me we got 4 main characters and they’re all cornstarch-white? idc that they’re all unapologetically gay. that doesn’t make it inclusive enough. where’s the flavour??? has the author ever even set foot into Toronto? bc the amount of whiteness that saturates the entirety of this book’s world building doesn’t make sense when u think about how diverse of a city Toronto is. even every secondary and background character is white. i think, in passing, there’s probably only like one black character mentioned.

anyway. i was excited to read about an urban fantasy set in a place i live (!!!) for the first time, but idk...i feel like it coulda served even better if the author hadn’t been so narrow-minded.
Profile Image for Alex (The Scribe Owl).
360 reviews111 followers
February 13, 2021
See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl!

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

This was a buddy read with the ultimate buddy reading partners, Katie @ Whispering Pages and (kind of) Lia @ Chain of Novels!

4.5/5 stars!

This was amazing. I mean, I expected it to be good but wow. I've read glowing reviews by some of my friends, and let me tell you--it's all true! Honestly, the only reason I didn't rate this book five stars is that I just about never rate the first book in a series five stars. It's just not enough time for me to really fall in love with the characters and world as much as I could have!

The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and bent 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?

When I first read the blurb for this book I was taken aback. Comparing it to City of Bones AND The Cruel Prince? But let me tell you--it's right. It is definitely like those two books! We have a fantastic cast in an urban fantasy setting (City of Bones) and a detailed system of faeries and magic that are hidden from the human world (The Cruel Prince)! Just a side note, but this is probably one of the first times a book has actually been anything like the popular books that it's compared to.

If you've read any reviews about this book, the main thing that people are stealing about are the characters. AS THEY SHOULD. The characters in this book were AMAZING! Like I said earlier, this book was likened to City of Bones for its large cast (and urban fantasy.) This story is told by four POVs. Sounds exhausting. But somehow it isn't! All the characters have very distinctive voices and it's easy to tell them apart.

Our main cast mostly breaks off into two distinct groups: Nausicaä and Arlo are the first and Aurelian and Vehan are the second. Nausicaä took a while to grow on me, but I loved Arlo right away. Out of all the characters I'm probably the most like Arlo, so that was fun to see! Nausicaä is not my kind of character at all. Maybe it's just that I'm too much of a Hufflepuff to appreciate her Slytherin-ness. But she grew on me over the course of the book and now I like her! She's not my favorite of the four, but I definitely like and appreciate her.

Aurelian and Vehan are more of a secondary pairing, as Arlo is the main main character. BUT THEY'RE MY FAVORITE. Aurelian is so sweet and I love seeing what's going on in his head! But Vehan. Vehan is just the best. I don't know why, seeing as he probably got the least amount of page time, but VEHAN IS MY BABY CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE.

Quick shoutout to Celadon for being everything! He's main character material. Please please please more Celadon next book. 🥺

I enjoyed this book so much! You bet I'll be trolling NetGalley for book two when it's the time! I hope you give this a read because it was AMAZING.
Profile Image for Emma☀️.
332 reviews333 followers
March 13, 2022
A Dark and Hollow Star was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021. The blurb promised queer teenagers set in Toronto with serial killers and I was ecstatic when I got approved for the ARC. Unfortunately, it did fall short in terms of world-building and pacing.

I have to acknowledge how wonderful the queer rep was. All the main characters were part of the LBGTQ+ community and their orientation was accepted in the courts. This was so refreshing because not a lot of fantasy books integrate LGBTQ+ rep into their world and acknowledged.

In terms of world-building, it was confusing and riddled with many info dumps. Despite the influx of information, I still could not understand the magic system and I spent a portion of the book confused. A glossary would have definitely helped in this situation. However, I appreciated the nod to Greek mythology. It was fresh and new.
Plot-wise, it was slow-moving. It took a long time for the characters to finally meet and by then, I was not engaging with the content. The ending, however, was action-packed and I enjoyed it.

The characters were the strongest parts of the novel. A Dark and Hollow Star was told in 4 POVs - Arlo, Nausicaä, Aurelian, and Vehan. I appreciated that Shuttleworth took the time to flesh out each character, so by the end of the book, they all felt like one of my best friends. There was one gripe I had, some of the dialogue felt forced between the characters. Nausicaä would bring up pop culture that felt a little random. It came off as an adult hanging out with the kids - the "hello fellow kids" meme, if you will.

Overall, this was a solid first installment! The world-building was a bit shaky but hopefully, that will be resolved in the sequel.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for EmmaSkies.
161 reviews3,348 followers
August 24, 2022
Do you want a Faerie encyclopedia!? Then boy do I have the book for you...

A Dark and Hollow Star is a 500 page book that spends so much time infodumping every faerie concept you could possibly think of that it feels like maybe 30% of that is actual plot. Every time I thought the plot was finally going to start moving, it just introduced a new race or rule or vague history lesson instead. The first 200 pages are almost entirely made up of just paragraph after paragraph of explanations with no real story.

This book includes:
Faerie/fae/folk/ironborn, mortals/immortals, seelie/unseelie courts, royal politics, magic, alchemy, titans, furies, demons, monsters, sins, vague allusions to past atrocities, royal lines of succession, resistance organizations, and attempts to explore racism and sexuality (which end up just feeling very surface level)...and it spends the first 400 pages dumping all of that in a pot and stirring it up in a meaningless stew and then decides it actually just wants to be DnD. I cannot stress enough that I'm not joking, this book literally becomes Dungeons and Dragons 80% in, with a D20 and a Heads Up Display and everything. Introducing an entirely new magic system in the last 20% of the book that doesn't mesh at all with the piles and piles of different concepts that have been thrown at the reader for the last 400 pages was...a choice.

All in all, there just isn't a complete story here. I get that it's the first of four books, but even single entries in a series need to have their own cohesive plot. The one that's attempted in this book is a jerky stop and start ride between all the infodumping and POV changing and complete lack of the passage of time (I would have sworn up and down this all took place over a few days, until the author actually mentions 300+ pages in that it's been almost 2 weeks) and in the end nothing the main characters do seems to even matter because of the huge ex machina at the end. The author could have cut out the preceding 450 pages if that's what was going to happen anyway...

On top of that, I was not a fan of the writing style. This paragraph stuck out to me immediately (no spoilers because it's from Page 2):
Beside the goddess stood Erinys Megaera, the only sister Alecto now had left - however much they disliked each other. As Alecto expected, there was no love left in Megaera's gaze. No pity. Alecto would be replaced when this was over - so, too, would Tisiphone. The realm's respect for Alecto's grief would no longer delay what was inevitable. Other immortals would be trained to fill Alecto's and Tisiphone's roles, and the Furies would be three once again.

I think her name might be Alecto. I don't know, maybe the author should say it again just to make sure...
(hilariously, the character changes her name less than two pages later so it actually isn't Alecto anymore)

I'm also personally not a fan of pop-culture references in books, and this is chock full of them.
...when she got home tonight, she was going to take a bubble bath and binge-watch She-Ra and the Princesses of Power on Netflix until she fell asleep.

There are so many and a lot of them are so specific that it ends up reading like the author was paid for product placement. Things referenced ad nauseum include (but are not limited to):
Legend of Zelda
Mario Party
Portal 2
Harry Potter
The Hobbit (movies)
Lord of the Rings
Dungeons and Dragons

Between all that and dialogue gems like "W-T-Fuck" and "Holy effing shit" and "Hecking," this just wasn't my cup of tea in the writing department.

All that to say, this was a two star book for me. I did not have a good time and nothing in this book makes me want to read a follow-up, much less THREE. There is exactly one unresolved plotline I'll be bummed to miss out on, but it's nowhere near enough to push through more of these books. I won't be picking up the sequel (which, incidentally, somehow has an even worse cover than this one).
Profile Image for Tiffany Miss.Fiction.
121 reviews1,763 followers
February 24, 2021
Grande scoperta da tenere d'occhio. Trash, romance, urban fantasy, queerness a gogo, dinamiche sociali e politiche, grandi temi contemporanei, mystery e intrighi... Ashley Shuttlerwoth sono tua fan!
Profile Image for Yeganeh.
611 reviews247 followers
May 28, 2022
Reread : 28/05/22
First read: 08/05/21

~4.5 stars~

Say hello to new current favorite of mine.

A Dark and Hollow Star is a fun urban fantasy novel with stunning world building and brilliant characters. I kinda had high expectations for this book since the blurb sounded amazing and the book delivered it fortunately.(and just look at the cover, she is Nausicaä from the story and doesn't she looks badass?? wouldn't you fall for the cover like me?? then we have to talk!)

The world building in A Dark and Hollow Star is very well done. The level of detail is incredible and i found the Toronto setting unique I felt completely immersed in a world which is familiar yet unfamiliar – our world but with faeries roaming the streets. The different types of faerie, the Courts, and immortals, the way it’s all hidden alongside our world, was depicted so vividly. I loved the mix of fantasy and modern-day technology and pop culture references.


A Dark and Hollow Star is written in third person with the perspectives of four queer characters:

Arlo, Nausicaä, Aurelian and Vehan. I have to say, Aurelian and Vehan seemed to fade into the background as the book went on, with Arlo really feeling like the main character for most of the book, rather than the story being split between them more equally. I haven’t counted, but it seemed like there were a lot more chapters from Arlo’s POV than the others.

The character arcs were fascinating to follow. Arlo barely has any magic, so she doesn’t expect to be an important player in this. When she discovers that she can have a larger role, she has to come to terms with being a hero.

“You’re… you’re something else, Arlo Jarsdel. But you’re also weird as fuck.”

Anyways, Arlo is definitely the quiet and reserved type around others, but with those she loves (like my sweet Celadon & Arlo) . . . let’s just say that she’s very fierce and annoyingly persistent when she wants something.

Nausicaä is sarcastic, chaotic and sassy in the best way, and every scene she was in was made ten times better by her presence. Every time she dramatically entered a scene I mentally cheered because I knew it was going to be a good one if she was in it. She made reading this book so much fun. I also adored the chemistry between Nausicaä and Arlo and how it built up slowly over the course of the book.

"You’re one of those people who’s all tough and prickly but actually very sweet, aren’t you,"
"Nah, I’m just as prickly on the inside as I am on the out. Like a cactus wrapped up in more cactus.”

And ma precious summer princey, vehan. ISTG we don't deserve him. He is really kindhearted and wholesome and he wants to make change despite the fact that every one tells him not to.
(Okay now my cinnamon roll baby boy list is really getting long i need to stop. 🙂)

*Secretly writes vehan's name in the list*

Aurelian is such great character to read about. everyone’s brooding and dramatic gay druid boy who pretends to not care at all about *ahem* a blue-eyed someone. Oh Aurelian, you’re not fooling anyone, except maybe that person.😥
"You’re one of those people who’s all tough and prickly but actually very sweet, aren’t you,"
“And damn, Aurelian loved him. Unfortunately, Vehan loved him too.”


This guy . . . he acts all grump and uncaring, but to find out the truth about the why behind it and know it’s because of that monster .Though as i mentioned earlier him and vehan got to fade a little bit and i honestly want to read more about these two in next book. I was so sad that he got to act like what he is because of something and his relation with vehan was so cute and i loved that.


“The heart does not forget as the mind so easily does.”

A Dark and Hollow Star is a brilliant debut that is both dark and full of humor, with characters you will fall in love with and an incredibly immersive world.I was totally invested in the characters and the outcome of their investigation.now i really can't wait for next book to come out specially that i want to read more about vehan and aurelian .
This is going to be a must-read for 2021.
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
970 reviews849 followers
May 19, 2023
3.5 stars

This was DENSE. And a bit overdone on the dialogue, if I’m honest. But it was something that kept me propelled, interested and aware of its unique potential! So I am very intrigued to see where this series could go in future books.

Concept: ★★★★
Pacing: ★★★
Balance of action vs. dialogue: ★★
World building: ★★★★★

A fallen Fury, an alchemist, some Fae, a reaper, a few gods, and some other beings walk into a bar...

Like the setup for a Dungeons & Dragons plot joke, A Dark and Hollow Star is one dense boy that feels almost comedic in its self-aware density. They thicc, in other words. If you, like me, appreciate a good mashup of concepts that weave together established fantastical elements into something new—keep reading.

(This is a reaction review.)

I'm not quite sure what I initially expected when I bought A Dark and Hollow Star in the bookstore. It's been a few years and the memory is hazy. I remember the word "Fae" piqued my interest—an eternal buzzword for me—and then the element of a murder mystery in the blurb kept my focus.

It's not often you get the words "Fae" and "murder mystery" in the same setup for a YA book.

So I bought it, and then it sat on my shelf being intimidatingly large for a YA debut (this thing is 500 pages-ish).

And I wondered why I didn't see people talking about this book.

Well, having traveled to the other side, I now REALLY understand why this book has existed on the edges of the YA scene. It's... a lot. And frankly, I kind of wish this had aged up its characters and been produced as an adult paranormal series—because I believe that adult audience would have understood more of this novel's quirks, whereas the action-based YA market might not have been the best.

With its accessible paranormal fantasy-style snarky dialogue, modern-day setting, and immediately likeable characters, this book started out strong for me. I was intrigued and captivated by the clever mashup of paranormal fae + Greek mythology Furies + other semi-spoilery elements. The opening third of this novel was a slam-dunk, one-sit read.

But then, I felt this novel buckle under the weight of its own structure and collapse a bit in the middle. Snarky dialogue and random, mundane character moments can only get you so far when the stakes are as high as they are in this book. And combining so many fantasy elements + character POVs... you've got to eventually let this story's action propel us into something bigger. And I felt like that was A Dark and Hollow Star's weakness.

"Weakness" might be a bit harsh, however, because unlike many, MANY other fantasies in the saturated YA market these days, this novel brought some titans to the table in terms of its character development, unique world building set-up, and promise of future plot development. Even when I disliked the pacing and lack of momentum, I couldn't put this book down. (I've DNF'd dozens of books for much less, so my staying power to complete this book is, in itself, some of my highest praise.)

I look forward to seeing where this story leads in future books. And I'm crossing my fingers that the jumping-off point at the end of book one leads to some adjusted pacing and development in the later books!

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Profile Image for jazmin ✿.
556 reviews759 followers
August 3, 2022
“Heroes went through so much hardship. Heroes were the stuff of tragedies.”

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* *:・゚✧*:・゚✧


I went into this book with minimal expectations, because despite this book being popular, I just don’t see it talked about all that much? And frankly I have no idea why because this was PHENOMENAL. Just such a fun experience. The world-building was immersive and despite having elements of stories I’ve read many times, felt very unique. And the characters? OBSESSED. I’m so excited to see what happens in the next book! Have I already ordered it? Maybe…

Oh also something I forgot to say… IF YOU ARE FROM CANADA AND SPECIFICALLY TORONTO. READ. THIS. NOW. The specific mentions of different neighbourhoods and buildings… this felt like a love-letter to Toronto. Aka the best city. Why aren’t more books set here?!

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* *:・゚✧*:・゚✧

my carrd ❦
Profile Image for Robin.
327 reviews1,819 followers
February 23, 2022
I love canada and this wholesome queer found family.
March 4, 2021
DNF'ed at 54%

Regardless of my enjoyment of the book, I am incredibly grateful to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with an Advance Review Copy of Ashley Shuttleworth's ``A Dark and Hollow Star``. All opinions are my own. They have made me lucky by giving me access to one of my 2021 most anticipated releases. Again, thanks a lot!

To begin with, A Dark and Hollow Star's promise of an Urban Fantasy based on modern-day Toronto full of faeries with LGBTQA+ characters gravitated my attention toward this book. To give more insight into the plot, each of the seasonal faerie realms is divided by the Seelie and the Unseelie, faeries of light and faeries of darkness. In this world, the half-faeries half-humans are called ironborn. Plenty of them are suddenly murdered and our main characters are trying to figure out who orchestrated the murders and why.

This character-driven tale voices five perspectives: Arlo, a female ironborn torn between her human and High Fae heritage; Nausicaä, the fierce lesbian warrior wanting to avenge a loved one's death; Aurelian, the Seelie prince of the Summer Court; Vehan, Aurelian's friend; Hero, a mysterious janitor. As a Canadian person who grew up loving mythological creatures and Urban Fantasy, this story sounded like a dream come true.

Moreover, vampires, trolls, and djinns also made their way into this fantastical version of Toronto. However, their coexistence with the Fae and humans is not as well explored as I wanted to. Shuttleworth mention in their debut novel that the Fae came from Europe and more specifically, Scotland and England, but did not expand on the historical backgrounds of other creatures. As Toronto is well-known as one of the most multicultural places in North America, I expected the author to offer more cultural history on how other creatures (who came from Eastern European, Asian, African, and Middle Eastern folklore) influenced the way this version of Toronto is built and its current patrimony.

The first issue I encountered while reading ``A Dark and Hollow Star`` is the pacing. Too many pages were spent depicting unnecessary details such as repeating over and over the character's thoughts and feelings. It felt too stretched out: Shuttleworth could have told the same information but in shorter form. The overload of needless information took me out of the story and I did not want to turn the page until picking the book back up a few days later, convinced that the pacing will improve. In brief, It was not exciting to read. The murder mystery plotline was hidden in the closet. Not any mention of it during the middle of the book.

Plus, the characters themselves are not innovative. Arlo is the usual YA protagonist who does not belong in any of her worlds she is supposedly part of. Although Nausicaä’s chapters were the most interesting to me, I already read the story of the fierce and vengeful girl ready to tear the world apart until she meets her love interest who makes her softer. Vehan and Aurelian's chapters full of angst (they have feelings for each other, but they don't want to ruin their long-lost friendship) is a territory I already landed on in the past. I do like multiperspective stories, but the characters did not meet or team up until very late in the book. If they have met earlier, it would have been a great occasion to write banter, which would have increased my interest in their adventure.

When I am reading a faerie book (or on any other magical creature), I want rich lore, folklore, rituals, traditions, etc. Unfortunately, ``A Dark and Hollow Star`` failed to intrigue me in Shuttleworth's version of faeries. It did not deliver the thrill page-turner quality of a murder mystery, nor the lush of a faerie world. I know that fairy folklore is very common in Fantasy, but this is not a good reason to skip on what makes the Fae different from others.
At the end of the day, I am pretty sure Shuttleworth have amazing ideas, but their writing choices did not match what I wanted from their stories. I do not think their debut brings a new touch to the YA Fantasy realm. On a more positive note, if you are looking for a slower-paced Torontonian LGBTQ+ version of stories you probably visited before, this one may be for you.
Profile Image for Miranda.
165 reviews48 followers
April 1, 2021
Ashley Shuttleworth’s A Dark and Hollow Star was one of my most anticipated reads for the year. Early reviewers and seeing the author’s tweets had me so excited for it. I have seen so many positive reviews where people say this book is a new all time favorite for them. I could not wait to get my hands on a copy, so I am beyond glad that my local library purchased a copy!!

A Dark and Hollow Star follows four queer main character perspectives: a Fury who has been exiled but is set on getting revenge, an ironborn half-fae, a fae prince, and the prince’s guardian. When ironborn in Toronto start being murdered and the Courts do not intervene, these teens must race to uncover secrets and stop the murders. With the lack of support from the Courts, they must form their own alliance to save both the Mortal and Immortal Realms.

Shuttleworth sets up a really cool premise with the different realms for immortals versus mortals. They seem to blend together really well, and it highlights the fact that this is an urban fantasy. I have not read much of this specific genre of fantasy, but I did like how everything felt modern and believable. At times, I felt like the world could have been explained better though. This is something I hope falls into place in the next book.

Right from the beginning of this book I loved the author’s writing. They have a great voice, tone, and mood all throughout. The pacing overall was good, but, in my opinion, was slower at times with it being on the verge of info dumping for certain aspects of the world building. However, I still really admire and appreciate the way Shuttleworth crafts and controls their narrative. It is important to have the set up for the world itself, but I wish it felt more naturally intertwined with the story.

This book featured one of my new favorite cast of characters. Nausicaä, Arlo, Vehan, and Aurelian were all really likable and unique. Since I loved them so much and just wanted to keep reading about them, I did start to feel like they were getting lost in the world building and descriptions sometimes. I really liked how the chapters switched back and forth between each of the characters though. I love when books have multiple perspectives. This made it feel like you could really get to know a character as an individual before seeing how they come together and interacted with the other main characters. Arlo was pretty relatable, and I did appreciate how Shuttleworth handled the character’s internal struggles about her powers and fitting in. Nausicaä was also such an interesting character, and I enjoyed learning more about her backstory. The relationships were all really well developed too.

A Dark and Hollow Star was a fun read for me. Ashley Shuttleworth really pulled me into their book and world. I can definitely see why so many people are loving this book. I cannot wait to see where the story goes in the next book!

*Content warnings: 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, minor Harry Potter references*
Profile Image for mish ♡.
107 reviews218 followers
Want to read
December 13, 2020
uHM just got an arc of this don't talk to me eEEEK

i'm sorry i didn't even finish the synopsis i just took a look at the cover and read toronto like whaaatt 🤪🤪 fantasy set in my city ???
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