A Grim and Sunken Vow (3) (Hollow Star Saga)

A Grim and Sunken Vow (3) (Hollow Star Saga)
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Release Date
November 28, 2023
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Arlo and her friends must decide how far they’re willing to go to depose a cruel ruler in this third book in the Hollow Star Saga that’s The Cruel Prince meets City of Bones.

The die is cast.
The era of Spring is over.

Riadne’s bloody coup on the Summer Solstice changed Arlo’s life forever. In one fell swoop and a fool’s bargain, she lost both her family and free will to the newly crowned High Queen. Now, with Arlo forced to use her powers as Luck’s Hollow Star to help summon the rest of the seven deadly sins, Riadne stands closer than ever to achieving her dark goals.

And Arlo isn’t the only one trapped in a frightening new role. Her ex-Fury girlfriend, Nausicaä, is determined to do whatever it takes to stay by Arlo’s side, even if that means becoming Riadne’s pet assassin. Aurelian and Vehan, torn apart, struggle to survive on their own.

Meanwhile, Celadon has been revealed as Riadne’s illegitimate son—and heir to both Spring and Summer, the ultimate offense in the faerie world. But the High Prince has secret plans of his own, plans made all the more complicated when the beautiful and deadly immortal Hunter Lethe takes an interest in him…

Five budding legacies will need more than luck if they hope to stand a chance against the greatest adversary the Courts have faced. For nothing’s more dangerous than a faerie tale… except the one who tells it, and maybe what they’re going to need is no longer that story’s hero but its villain.

Editor review

1 review
The Darkness Before the Light
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After the explosive ending of book two, our cast of characters needs time to heal and regroup in A GRIM AND SUNKEN VOW. This book was unlike other fantasy books I am used to. Usually, in this genre, if the characters face enormous trauma, then they smash their feelings down deep so they can get right back to plotting the downfall of their enemy. However, Ashley Shuttleworth takes time to explore the shock and depression that each character faces in the wake of the massacre of the Viridian family.
Each character blames themselves and licks their wounds on their own for a while during the book. It feels believable as each struggle to reconnect with the group and heal enough to face what is next. They also are gaining the skills they need to be able to thwart Riadne’s ultimate goals even if she wins many of the battles along the way.
In this book, we finally get Lethe’s backstory. We also finally find out why he has been orchestrating these terrible events while protecting our cast of characters. Celadon and Lethe bond and it is revealed they have a deeper connection to each other than either realized at first. This was a relationship that did not resonate with me like the others. Lethe has been half villain throughout the books and his backstory is a bit repugnant so it is not easy for me to see him as attractive or a love interest.
Nausicaä’s actions also were hard to understand. I get that she wants to be by Arlo’s side and she will do anything to accomplish this. However, I was still surprised and dismayed that she allowed herself to become Riadne’s henchman to the extent that she did.
All the books have hinted that Arlo is more important than she realizes. It is nice to start to understand what her missing memories may be hiding. The ending ends on quite a cliffhanger. It says that she is willing to become the villain to set everything right. That has me curious about what might happen in the fourth book.
Overall, this book focuses on themes of mental health and healing from depression and trauma. There is an action fantasy setting to create the situation to explore these themes. I think it has taken me three books to realize that the mental health aspect is the focus more than the action story.

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