Book Review: SECRETS OF THE STARS by Maria Kuzniar (Middle Grade Monday)

Title in white on a pink and green blurred background
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - second book

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for THE SHIP OF SHADOWS*

Synopsis:

Book cover for SECRETS OF THE STARS: title in white on a green pagoda-like entrance with a ship visible through it

Puzzle-solving Aleja thought she had earned her place on the legendary Ship of Shadows. But as the crew continue their quest for the lost map, she finds herself baffled by a series of confusing clues and dead ends.

When the ship begins a desperate, treacherous journey halfway across the world, Aleja starts experiencing strange visions. She realises that someone is trying to tell her something – but what will it cost her to find out?

With loyalties challenged and danger at every turn, the pirates must work together to solve the riddles and unlock the ship’s secrets before their time runs out…

Synopsis taken from the back of book. Add to your Goodreads shelves here.


Review:

SECRETS OF THE STARS is such a fun follow up to THE SHIP OF SECRETS, an MG high-seas adventure that is also a quest and has sections that happen on land too.

Rather than staying in and around the Mediterranean this time, the ship heads off towards Asia in a cat-and-mouse game with their mortal enemies. The unease over how much their enemy knew – and how they were arriving ahead of them – added a great dash of mystery, on top of the riddles and visions showing Aleja what was going on.

We learn a lot more about the magic in this book, though it still really has a “anything goes feel”, which fits the nebulous mystery of the ship. I love the idea of the ship’s magic being powered through legends told about it, which craft which rooms appear. Plus mysteries around the shadows are slowly peeled back – certainly not all the way, but a bit.

There’s more time spent with the crew, digging into their pasts and dynamics. Something nasty happens, but it really helps to explore how they all feel and reinforces the idea of sisterhood and found family. The book also probes into Frances and Aleja’s relationship – exploring a really silly mistake we all make with our friends at some point but can be so hard to notice and fix at the time.

I didn’t really notice Tinta, the shapeshifting shadow that attaches itself to Aleja, in the first book. However, during my re-read and then while reading this one, I absolutely fell in love with it. I’m not usually a fan of animals (I have no interest in ever owning a pet) and pets in books just past me by, but I think the fact that Tinta was a shadow helped. He was just a cute lot of fun.

There is certainly at least one more book, but hopefully I’m right in thinking that, given there are two more map pieces out there, there are two more books to go?


Read my reviews of other books by Maria/M. A. Kuzniar:

Middle Grade:

The Ship of Shadows (this series):

Adult:

Standalones:

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