a dark and hollow star


YA & up

  • High Fantasy
  • Faerie/Sidhe/Irish Lore
  • Loss/Grieving
  • Queer Identity
  • Mental Health
  • Resilience & Recovery

ashley shuttleworth

Photo Credit: Ashley Shuttleworth (side note: look at those nails!)

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Content Warnings (click to open)

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

It isn’t often that I come upon a book that features content warnings. That A Dark and Hollow Star included one before the prologue was a great start to my reading experience. I feel that much more appreciated from an author when they have taken the time to think about the folks reading their book, and which topics readers may have lived experience with. I think that what I love most about queer YA especially is the ability (most of the time, not always) to find a balance between the real tragedies and genuine suffering of teenagers and the incredible possibility of learning about yourself. My reading style is to run through whatever I am reading for plot, not necessarily for writing. It’s why I spoil myself on every horror movie and can’t stand to wait to find out what the big secret on the last page will be.

A Dark and Hollow Star, however, had me hanging on until the last page, and reading dialogue two or three times to catch all of the sly, realistic conversation between the four main protagonists! The ease with which Shuttleworth infuses the existing mythology and lore with nonbinary characters and frank discussions of the trauma inherent in growing up with a marginalized identity is striking. Shuttleworth’s intimate knowledge of these identities (they are non-binary) made for authentic and vivid characters. Multiple(!) queer love stories had not one hint of a closet or an unaccepting parental figure, and I was overjoyed to find that the greatest conflict between our star-crossed lovers was an interdimensional one. I cannot wait for a sequel, and I just have to know where the characters end up after the shocking cliffhanger. Hopefully Shuttleworth will make my dreams come true soon!

This book was kindly sent by Simon & Schuster and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to review it. All opinions and decision to review is my own!

about the author

Ashley Shuttleworth

Ashley Shuttleworth is a YA Fantasy author represented by Mandy Hubbard of Emerald City Literary Agency. They currently reside in Ontario, Canada and when they aren’t writing, spend most of their time reading and playing video games (particularly Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Legend of Zelda). Their debut novel A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR (Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books) was released on February 23rd, 2021.

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