Book Review: These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan

Today’s review is about THESE HOLLOW VOWS by Lexi Ryan. It’s the first installment in the These Hollow Vows duology. In this book the reader follows Brie, who loathes the fae. Stuck in debt to her employer, Brie’s sister is sold to the king of the Unseelie Court. To get her back Brie poses as a potential bride to the Seelie Prince. Along the way she begins to fall for both the Seelie and Unseelie princes.

Author: Lexi Ryan
Series: These Hollow Vows, #1
Age Category: Young Adult
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publish Date: July 20, 2021
Print Length: 448

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Official Synopsis

Brie hates the Fae and refuses to have anything to do with them, even if that means starving on the street. But when her sister is sold to the sadistic king of the Unseelie court to pay a debt, she’ll do whatever it takes to get her back–including making a deal with the king himself to steal three magical relics from the Seelie court.

Gaining unfettered access to the Seelie court is easier said than done. Brie’s only choice is to pose as a potential bride for Prince Ronan, and she soon finds herself falling for him. Unwilling to let her heart distract her, she accepts help from a band of Unseelie misfits with their own secret agenda. As Brie spends time with their mysterious leader, Finn, she struggles to resist his seductive charm.

Caught between two dangerous courts, Brie must decide who to trust with her loyalty. And with her heart.

My Review

I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I read this book other than the fact that it involves the fae and probably mortal peril. Yes, please. I have a confession to make: sometimes I only skim read the official synopsis because why develop expectations? Anyway, I knew enough that I’d probably enjoy THESE HOLLOW VOWS, and I wasn’t disappointed.

As far as fae fantasy novels go, the beginning is more or less predictable, but enjoyable. The human protagonist is in a less than fortunate situation and hates the fae. Then, suddenly they find themselves in the fae realm to complete a mission. I enjoyed the author’s writing style, which provides the reader with enough detail to hold their interest but not get lost in the minutiae. There’s a moderate amount of world-building. As Brie spends more time with the fae we inevitably learn more about various places in the realm. I thought the magic system was well-explained. We learn more about it through Brie’s interactions with goblins and conversations with various fae characters.

I found Brie relatable as a strong-willed, bold, and sometimes vulnerable character. She refuses to let anything or anyone distract her from rescuing Jas, including two attractive fae princes. Though she has inward moral objections about taking advantage of Prince Ronan’s affections for her, she reminds herself of her end goal. The story is from Brie’s point of view, but I felt I could also empathize with the princes’ reasonings for their actions and intentions. Brie only has her preconceived judgment and limited fae knowledge to go by, so suffice it to say there’s more than meets the eye with respect to fae politics. As with real life human culture, bigotry is present among the fae. One of the events in connection to this discrimination reminded me a little bit of the Mexico-USA border issues.

As you might expect, there is more than an undercurrent of romance. In fact, there were a couple of scenes that I think push this book into a more mature YA reader space. At most I expected a fade to black scene, so the spicier bits pleasantly surprised me. (For comparison, it’s not SJM level, but it’s more than the SHADOW AND BONE trilogy level.)

Though the beginning of this book is par for the course, the ending shocked me! I thought I had it all figured out, but the author threw a mean curveball. I was so angry for Brie that I felt like I had personally experienced this unexpected turn of events. To be honest, the ending caused me to increase my overall rating. I like to think I’m pretty good at guessing what will happen plot-wise, so if an author surprises me, then consider me won over. Fair warning that THESE HOLLOW VOWS ends in a cliff hanger. But, luckily, the next book in this duology hits bookstores on July 19, 2022.

Rating: 4.5/5
Content warnings:
Reading format: Library hardback

9 thoughts on “Book Review: These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan

  1. I read this one and it wasn’t really my thing. I definitely also thought it was more NA than YA though. They’re clearly trying to capitalize on ACOTAR here, and we have all agreed ACOTAR is NA so . . .

    1. I thought it was pretty standard for the course until more about the Seelie vs Unseelie stuff was revealed. I think this book flirts the line between YA and NA, but I think I’d keep it in YA given that some YA have engaged in those types of activities at some point. For me, NA is more graphic, I guess; I don’t know if that’s the defining feature of YA vs NA spice, but that’s my interpretation. And YES, ACOTAR is solidly in the NA camp. There are times I still see it in the YA section and I kind of grimace.

  2. Ah Celeste,

    how dare you! Now, I have to put another book on my wishlist, and I am already split which stack of books I should reduce first: the SuB or the Wishlist. You ain’t helping at all here. 😀

    Thank you for your interesting words.


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