Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Review: StarCrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Title:  StarCrossed
Author:  Elizabeth C. Bunce
Publisher:  Arthur A. Levine
Genre: YA / fantasy
Hardcover: 359 pages
ISBN: 0545136059
Summary from Goodreads: 
Digger thrives as a spy and sneak-thief among the feuding religious factions of Gerse, dodging the Greenmen who have banned all magic. But when a routine job goes horribly wrong and her partner and lover Tegen is killed, she has to get out of the city, fast, and hides herself in a merry group of nobles to do so. Accepted as a lady's maid to shy young Merista Nemair, Digger finds new peace and friendship at the Nemair stronghold--as well as plenty of jewels for the taking. But after the devious Lord Daul catches her in the act of thievery, he blackmails her into becoming his personal spy in the castle, and Digger soon realizes that her noble hosts aren't as apolitical as she thought... that indeed, she may be at the heart of a magical rebellion.

Overall rating:  7/10

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Elizabeth C. Bunce's StarCrossed is an intrigue-rich historical fantasy about Digger, a talented thief who finds herself running for her life after a job goes terribly wrong.  She is desperate to escape the streets of Gerse and must assume a false identity in order to evade the dangerous Greenmen.  In a world filled with political tension, religious persecution, and forbidden magic, will Digger be safe posing as a lady's maid among the nobles of Bryn Shaer, far away from the treacherous streets of Gerse?  Or will she become entangled in another deadly dance of secrets and lies?

What I Liked:
-     Digger is a very capable heroine.  She is a skilled thief, spy, and counterfeit artist.  I admired her fearlessness and self-confidence.
-     Many of the inhabitants of Bryn Shaer are more intriguing than they appear at first glance.  I particularly enjoyed getting to know the formidable Lady Lyll and her wounded patient.
-     I enjoyed Digger's clever, survivalist personality, but it was also lovely to see her begin to open herself up to friendship over the course of the book.
-     The historical aspects of the setting, from the clothing to the weapons to the architecture, are all described in beautiful detail and give Llvraneth a believable magical-Renaissance atmosphere.
-     There are a number of plot twists in this book, and two of the larger ones took me totally by surprise.  Fun!
-     I liked the unique type of magic the Sarists practice, which involves finding, gathering, and shaping.  It has an organic and cooperative feel.
-     Several personal and political conflicts are revealed in StarCrossed, and many of the characters and conflicts seem poised to reappear in the second book, Liar's Moon.  I look forward to seeing where the story goes next.

What I Wished:
-     I wanted the story to unfold more quickly and with more consistent tension.  After the initial excitement surrounding Digger's escape from Gerse, the tension lags a bit until her position at Bryn Shaer is put into jeopardy about a third of the way into the book. 
-     Merista and Wierolf are central to two of the most interesting parts of the story (the unique magic system and the looming civil war), but I didn't feel like either of them received enough page-time since the story is told from Digger's point of view and the supporting characters are not always central to her daily activities.
-     I wanted more romance, even if it was only in Digger's memories of Tegen.
-     A few parts of the story seem slightly too convenient, like secretive nobles who seem surprisingly open to confessing key details to Digger.

StarCrossed is an intrigue-filled historical fantasy with a bold heroine.  Fans of Tamora Pierce, Leah Cypess, Shannon Hale, or Kristin Cashore will enjoy the world-building and the gutsy protagonist.  If you would like to learn more about StarCrossed or Elizabeth C. Bunce's other books, please visit her website, blog, or facebook.

Read the first chapter of StarCrossed here!


Bookworm1858 said...

Great review-I adored this book and I'm super excited for the sequel. I'm hoping that since the world is already established, it will move a bit faster.

Sniffly Kitty said...

Hmm no romance? This actually makes me want to read it more ^.^

Sniffly Kitty
Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books

Cozy in Texas said...

Love the cover.

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

It seems it was a split review

Candace said...

This one sounds pretty good. I know that first books in series are often slow because of the world building. Hopefully the second book is even better!

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