I borrowed an ARC from my friend. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: standalone
The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.
Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
This is a shimmering debut (as my friend said, I am basically obliged to get the puns in).
I loved the celestial court, which was bursting with magic and the arts. There was such a mix of writers, painters, and musicians (etc), which meant the competition wasn’t a battle where physical strength would win, but one where skill was key. It’s such a nice change from magic battles.
In fact, the magic is very low-key in this book. The main plot ideas are about belonging and sabotage as the candidates squabble and the stars use them for power. The entwining of mythology and the real world’s arts industry was certainly an interesting angle. I like the idea of being inspired, but it also seems to take away from the hard work. The consequences of fame were interesting, as what people were willing to do for it.
It was so vividly described, with some lovely turns of phrases that make the world pop. I imaged it as full of colour and LOTS of gold. Also, the library with colour coded books is such a dream.
The main character, Sheetal, is very passive when she arrives in the celestial court. She largely floats by listening or watching other people’s dramas. The first half of the finale is her observing other people. and I think she could have done more to pull the reader in and elevate the stakes if it were her actions driving it. She seemed more active in the first act, before she arrived in the celestial court, so I’d have liked to see a bit more of that.
With Sheetal rather passive, she faded from sight a bit because the characters around her were so interesting, particularly her best friend (who I wish had more page time). Having these other, more active characters did help balance the story a little more.
I look forwards to see what books Shveta Thakrar writes next.