The Many Lives of Heloise Starchild – John Ironmonger

Many thanks to Will O’Mullane and Orion Books for sending me a review copy of this wonderful genre-bending historical novel in exchange for my honest thoughts! A unique high-concept story blending the French Revolution with the Prague Spring and even the future, this was a joy to read and get lost in.

RELEASE DATE: 06/08/20


SUMMARY: On the day the comet came, a girl named Heloise was born. She would live a fine life, and inherit a fortune, but would meet a cruel, untimely death.

Years later, strange dreams plague Katya Nemcová, a teenager burdened with a rare and curious gift. Memories come to Katya in her dreams – images and stories from a past that isn’t her own. Are these ghosts real? And what of the memory she seems to have of Heloise’s treasures, two centuries old? (from Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

OPINIONS: Following a line of strong women able to see memories of their ancestors back to Heloise, with whom the line started, this story is unique and haunting. Full of tragedy, but never losing hope. Heloise, Katya, and all the women in between endure hardship, and have to fight to make their way in the world, but don’t let it break their spirit. They are determined to be their own person without fail.

The Many Lives of Heloise Starchild is excellently written, gripping and pulls the reader into its world. It forces you to suspend disbelief, and accept the story at face value, as really, it is not about the individual events, which are often hard to believe if taken by themselves, but about the women and their determination. The stories should be considered illustrations for the characters, as which they function very well, making this a book about family, love, and ambition.

More literary than speculative fiction, The Many Lives of Heloise Starchild is mostly a historical novel set in the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, although part of it takes place in the future. While there are supernatural elements, I do think that this will appeal to readers of literary fiction more than the traditional readers of SFF due to its writing style. It is a relatively slow, character-driven story, with many interwoven plot strands, featuring lyrical prose. Also, look at the beautiful cover!!!

If you are intrigued, you can add The Many Lives of Heloise Starchild on Goodreads here, and order a copy from Waterstones here.

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