Of Beast and Burden (Hollow and Hill, #1) ♦ Kelsey Kicklighter | Review
Of Beast and Burden is a debut novel written by Kelsey Kicklighter. This first book of the new Hollow and Hill series comes with all the needed ingredients for a new fantasy series. We have magic, we have a lot of fantastic creatures including my favorite ones, the fae.
When I saw the cover and read the blurb, I was blown away and crossed my fingers I won’t be disappointed in the end. But my curiosity was strong enough to request an ARC copy of the novel.
Author: Kelsey Kicklighter
Series: Hollow & Hill #1
Publisher: Parliament House, published on 10. Mai 2022
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Format: ARC, eBook
Purchased at: NetGalley
Buy here: Amazon | Thalia | Hugendubel
Link to Bookhype
Link to Goodreads
A fae girl with a human heart.
A Seelie Queen with a penchant for stealing mortals.
And an Unseelie King who will have to give up his throne.
On the coast of Georgia rests a small southern town where faeries still take changelings. Faye lost her mother to the Folk, but has she spent her whole life longing for a glimpse—however brief—behind the veil.
When Faye finds her way in, she also finds the truth of why the dark and alluring world of the Folk has always called to her: She's half-faerie, and heiress to the Dark Court's throne.
When the rival court steals her best friend, she'll have to claim her crown to get her back. But that means learning how to use her glamour so she can face three deadly trials—and not falling for the dark and brooding king she's meant to be replacing, or the nymph-turned-knight teaching her to fight.
Of Beast and Burden ♦ Kelsey Kicklighter
We pretty much rush into the plot by Faye stumbling through the veil, following her friend Delia and two mysterious guys. Her whole short life long, Faye was drawn to the faerie realm. Not just because her Gran told her all kind of stories of the fae, no she also dived into the folklore, and her mother spend some in the other world behind the veil before she got lost to her. But the longing for this world seems to come from deep inside her, a feeling she could never explain. And during her first, mostly unwilling, visit she discovers the truth. Faye was more than just a young human woman, Faye was half-faerie. But that’s not it. She is also the heiress of the throne to the Unseelie court.
After this first encounter with the Folk, the plot comes to a developing halt in some way. Until Faye has to face her legacy to save her best friend Ellie, who was taken by the Soliel, the Queen of the Seelie court. A bargain is made and Faye finds herself at her father’s court, learning and training for a trail to take her crown from the current Unseelie king Gage. Instead of throwing rocks in her way, Gage and his first knight Isla help her to prepare for it all. But also Kellan, the Seelie prince and brother to Soliel, has an agenda and throws himself in the mix.
All things considered, I can clearly state I enjoyed this book and my worries of a possible disappointment were unjustified. There was more about the book that I liked than dislike.
But first things first. Nowadays, most fantasy series are about a heroine who is strong, courageous, and a fighter. But Faye is different. She may be stubborn, but she’s not a born warrior, nor does she know how to handle her birthright. But she is not above asking for help. Faye makes mistakes, a lot of them, while she has to learn how things in the realm work, how to fight and dance, and most important, how to master her magic. It was exciting to see how Faye gradually finds herself, mastering her abilities and even magical ones that no one has ever been able to do before.
In the beginning of the book, Faye seemed to be a bit reckless, when under the influence of her friend Delia. But once she returned into the human world and in the company of Ellie, she seemed to be more introvert and thoughtful. Yet, she immediately jumped into action once her lovely Ellie has been taken by the fae, and she knew she would do anything to get her back. Even though she had to ask for help within the Folk, which she never wanted to visit after her first encounter.
A huge part for me liking this novel have been the characters. Yes, they were not perfect, but they still have a lot of room to improve, which makes me long for the sequel. Next to our heroine Faye and her little weird, in a cute way, Ellie, we have Gage. He seems to be the villain at first, but turns out he is just a lone fighter with a dark side and a pure, loyal heart. For the most part, Isla seemed rather pale and listless to me, though her loyalty to her chivalric task was deeply rooted in her. Unlike Isla, Kellan was just a bit too much for me. Too much flirting, too much sweet talk and a tad too much arrogance. I rolled my eyes at him once too many times, and in the end his fate didn’t exactly surprise me either. It is well known that pride always comes before a fall. But his character was needed and fitted perfectly into the plot. While the Seelie are seen as the good fae, with Soliel I quickly realized what a fake little snake in the grass she really is and that her court must be dripping with intrigue. I’m excited to see which of her plans, which she’s guaranteed to be planning, will be uncovered in the second book.
Now that I’ve found enough of the good words for this novel, let’s talk about some negative points.
It wasn’t always clear to me in which periods the plot was taking place. It was once said that Faye had been at Unseelie Court for weeks, but those weeks were not apparent. Reading it felt more like just a few days. The timeline was just too imprecise.
And then there was this love triangle, which Kellan expanded into a square in part. This was just a bit too much for me. Which probably also has to do with the missing or rather misleading times of the plot. As a result, Faye threw himself on Isla and Gage emotionally too quickly. Because Isla looked so pale to me, my love interest for the brooding dark Gage was far more developed.
Of Beast and Burden is a really promising first volume of a new fantasy series penned by Kelsey Kicklighter. With magic rendered impressively, emotions so pure and twists towards the end that couldn’t be more surprising, this is an absolute must-read for any fantasy fan.
I would like to thank Independent Publishers Group, The Parliament House and NetGalley for providing an ARC copy of this novel.