The Everly family has lived under a curse for centuries. For each generation, one member must be sacrificed to the mysterious Penelope. The reason for the curse has been lost to the Everly family, they simply live with the debt they can never fully pay. Ten years ago, Violet’s mom walked out the door to find a way to break the curse. No one has heard from her since. Now payment is due, and the bill is falling on Violet if her mother can’t be found. That is, unless Violet can finally find the key to breaking the curse once and for all. Find out in The City of Stardust by Georgia Summers.
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Redhook for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of The City of Stardust contains some spoilers!]
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A family curse shrouded in mystery
Once upon a time, a star fell in love with a man. Or a man fell in love with a star. Or the star offered to teach the man. The man wanted love. Or he wanted fame. Or he wanted money. It all ended when the star tried to kill him. Or killed a city instead of him. Or he killed himself to stop the star. It was such a long time ago that the facts have been lost to time and legend. No one is really sure what happened now. The Everlys certainly don’t know anymore. They just know that every generation, one of them must walk into the dark alone. And they never return.
Violet’s mother, Marianne, is sure that there is a way to break the curse. She doesn’t want to die, and she doesn’t want her daughter to die. So she leaves Violet and just walks out into the night. Violet’s Uncle Ambrose raises her, while her Uncle Gabriel supports them. They are all that’s left of the Everly family. Violet’s uncles live in fear of the day that Violet will be discovered by the vengeful Penelope. They know that Penelope will want Violet for her twisted payment, and they’ll be powerless to stop her.
For many years, Violet’s uncles hid the truth of the Everly curse from Violet. Then one day Violet pieces things together and the truth comes out. Even though they haven’t heard from her mother in ten years, Violet decides that she will track her down and figure out how to end the curse. So she leaves home to do just that.
But there is more to the story than Violet could have guessed, and finding the truth will be more dangerous than she thought. Of course, just waiting for Penelope to take her is worse, so Violet will do what she can to save herself and her family. Will she be able to piece together the truth hiding in the past in time to break the curse? Or will she too go into the dark, never to be seen again?
The City of Stardust is a love story drenched in blood
Imagine if a star came to life. Would they be able to understand human emotions? Would they have emotions of their own? And if they did, would they equate to human feelings or be totally alien? Those are the questions that form the basis of Georgia Summers’ story in The City of Stardust. The Astrals are the stars that come to life.
The stars Summers give life to felt very must like angels to me. Not the harp playing all love and rainbows beings that we’ve come to think of as angels, but real old school, fire, and sword angels. The kind that are clearly different from humans not just physically but intellectually and emotionally too.
The Astrals have emotions and a sense of fairness, it’s just not the same as the human versions of these things. And that’s where problems come in. People try to deal with the Astrals like they’re human, but they’re not. The Astrals fully believe that they are being fair and humans are unreasonable. Humans fully believe that they are being fair and the Astrals are unreasonable. It’s these, well, basically cultural, differences that cause all the heartache in this story.
And it’s really interesting to look at the whole story from that point of view. No one is evil (even though it feels that way and Penelope is definitely set up as the villain), it’s just that there’s a cultural difference that neither side can see past. Honestly, in our own world, this happens all the time. And we villanize people for what is really just a different point of view. I was fascinated as I thought along those lines while I was reading.
A thought-provoking read from Georgia Summers
So what looked like a poofy adventure story ended up having much deeper meaning for me. I was very pleasantly surprised by the level of thought that The City of Stardust provoked. The interesting thing is that the way Summers wrote it allows for it to be read either way.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who will read it and just see the fluff on top. But for those who dive a little deeper and see the bigger themes at work, this novel will leave them with a new perspective on the world. Check it out when it releases on January 30th and see if you can broaden your own perspective.
My Rating: 9/10
The City of Stardust will be released later this month from Redhook. Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on adding this novel to your TBR list.
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