This was DENSE. And a bit overdone on the dialogue, if I’m honest. But was it something that kept me propelled, interested and aware of its unique potential? Yes. I am very intrigued to see where this series could go in future books.
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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Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.