Goodreads: These Hollow Vows
Series: These Hollow Vows #1
Age Category: Young Adult
Published: July 20, 2021
From New York Times best-selling author Lexi Ryan, Cruel Prince meets A Court of Thorns and Roses in this sexy, action-packed fantasy about a girl who is caught between two treacherous faerie courts and their dangerously seductive princes.
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.
These Hollow Vows is being marketed as a pick for readers who enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses, and I think if what you’re looking for is a steamy story featuring a Fae love triangle, with some background plot about feuding courts and a protagonist whose secrets will finally all come to light, These Hollow Vows will work for you. It hits the spot for people who are into the Fae romance fad. Personally, I was hoping for more originality in the story and better writing, and I found the experience of reading this alternately comical and disappointing.
I was first struck by how the novel’s writing feels like a mishmash of all the other YA books I’ve ever read. The opening chapter in particular struck me with familiar phrase after phrase, things like, “[Character name] wasn’t home tonight. I made sure of it,” as the protagonist breaks into a residence to steal something. I give the author credit for knowing the YA market and being able to write a book that will doubtless work well in it as it hits all the typical notes, but I found myself laughing and wondering if I should just DNF the book if it was just going to string a bunch of dramatic cliché lines together.
I persevered, however, and I did ultimately find myself a bit more interested in the plot than I’d anticipated, but events were still predictable. First, the book almost sounds a little too like ACOTAR. This may be partially because both are about Fae (I honestly think a lot of Fae books sound the same because they’re working with the same base material), but there are also a number of parallels in terms of the plot and character ARCs. Second, there’s a really predictable love triangle. Ryan does do a bit more back and forth (This one’s the good guy! No, the other guy is the good guy!) than many stories, but it’s still clear how it’s all going to end, and it made me want to hit my head against a wall watching the protagonist be dense about the whole thing. The ending is particularly predictable.
The book is a bit sexy, is that’s what you’re looking for. I saw a couple of people on Goodreads suggest it’s “tame” and suitable for lower YA, and . . . no. I actually went on the publisher’s web site to double check that it’s marketed as YA at all and not as NA/adult. The protagonist is 18. One love interest is 21. One is older because, you know, Fae. And there are some pretty explicit bedroom scenes. Goodreads led me to believe this might be a book lighter on the romance, and my expectations were off base there. No, it’s not ACOTAR level, but it’s definitely mature YA leading into NA for me.
I don’t know that this is a bad book, but it depends on what you’re looking for. Fun steamy Fae book you aren’t going to take too seriously? Sure. A thoughtful fantasy with strong world building and complex characters? Probably not. It wasn’t my thing, but I can see why people looking for a readalike for ACTOAR would be into it.