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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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.
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.
Content warnings: BookTriggerWarnings.com
Reading format: Library hardback