Book Reviews

Review: A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

You know those books you want to love, but can’t no matter how hard you try? That was me and A Dark and Hollow Star. It had everything I thought I’d love: a queer cast of characters, urban fantasy, faeries, and intrigue. However, I found it pretty difficult to get into and which took about 20% which is like a considerable amount of the book! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


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.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: arson, gore, depression, drug use and addiction, human trafficking, suicide (off page), suicidal ideation, PTSD, racism (Thank you to the author and publisher for the trigger warnings at the beginning of the book)

A Dark and Hollow Star features four queer teens who find themselves involved in a series of murders destabilizing their world, as they know it. It’s been a while since I’ve read an urban fantasy with Faeries. A Dark and Hollow Star is set in Canada and bites off a huge chunk with epic and broad world building. It’s a world of multiple courts, magical creatures, and banned magics. My main issue with A Dark and Hollow Star was how slowly it unfolded.

I’m all for slow burns and unfurling worlds, but by about 20% I was still not really grasping the crescendo of action and still a bit confused about the backstories of the characters. Since I’m normally a fan of multiple POV novels, I’m not sure if it’s a combination of the fact that the switches sometimes made the narration feel a bit slower, or the combination of the slowly unfolding intrigue, but I wasn’t as invested as I wanted to be as early as I wanted.

Did you finish?

By the end, I had a better handle of the world building, but A Dark and Hollow Star has an intricate system. And it’s only getting started. I loved the queerness of the characters, and the ways it is integrated into the fantasy world. While I enjoyed the characters, it was another situation where I missed some flaws, some quirks, some of their vulnerabilities. I’m not sure if I somewhere got lost and missed them, but I wanted to get to know them better by the end. Additionally while the action ramped up and delivered plenty of twists, if I wasn’t reviewing it I’m not sure if I would have kept reading.


Which really breaks my heart. I felt like perhaps the reason A Dark and Hollow Star didn’t work for me was a mixture of pacing issues, world building complexities, and a lack of space for character introspection. I felt like I didn’t get to know a lot about how the characters felt about the action and events. There was a lot I wanted to love. And if you’re looking for a story with faeries and don’t mind settling in for a slower read, you should definitely give this a try. I can’t even remember the last urban fantasy I read.

Find A Dark and Hollow Star on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite faerie YA?

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