This book is beautiful. I know, I know – what a generic word – such a trite description. But, honestly? When I finished this book, and when I reflect on its themes, its tone, and the impressions it left upon me as a reader, its the word I keep coming back to. Star Mother is truly and simply a beautiful book. It is a compelling piece of feminist fiction on par with Circe by Madeline Miller both in terms of style and message, deeply exploring themes of love, motherhood, and devotion amid world-building that develops and reveals itself through an enigmatic plot. Highly recommend. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 01/11/2021
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
When a star dies, a new one must be born.
The Sun God chooses the village of Endwever to provide a mortal womb. The birthing of a star is always fatal for the mother, and Ceris Wenden, who considers herself an outsider, sacrifices herself to secure her family’s honor and take control of her legacy. But after her star child is born, Ceris does what no other star mother has: she survives. When Ceris returns to Endwever, however, it’s not nine months later—it’s seven hundred years later. Inexplicably displaced in time, Ceris is determined to seek out her descendants.
Being a woman traveling alone brings its own challenges, until Ceris encounters a mysterious—and desperate—godling. Ristriel is incorporeal, a fugitive, a trickster, and the only being who can guide Ceris safely to her destination. Now, as Ceris traverses realms both mortal and beyond, her journey truly begins.
Together, pursued across the Earth and trespassing the heavens, Ceris and Ristriel are on a path to illuminate the mysteries that bind them and discover the secrets of the celestial world.
Star Mother is a book about devotion; Ceris Wenden’s is a journey of continual self-sacrifice due to her unflappable devotion to self, community, and search for true love. This book asks the question: what are you willing to endure for integrity? And the example of endurance provided by the main character is quite powerful.
Ceris is devoted to herself, unwilling to compromise her personality or her desires, and yearning to be appreciated for living her life authentically. She is devoted to her community, sacrificing her body and future to the Sun in order to preserve her town and the true love that exists between her betrothed and his lover. She is devoted to her family, desperate to fulfill her role as a mother and fighting for a connection with her star as well as her family’s descendents, even after losing 700 years. And once she unexpectedly discovers true love in Ristriel, she is willing to endure whatever it takes, including 350 years of separation, to finally experience a life filled with the unconditional love and acceptance she’s searched for her entire life.
These themes of devotion and self-sacrifice, and the exploration of true love in all its forms, are set against a backdrop of well-executed, Fantasy world-building and plot. Holmberg has crafted a creative and unique world in which celestial objects are in fact deities that wield immeasurable power, and yet are still bound to the laws of the universe, providing rich fodder for moral dilemmas. The mystery behind the war between the Sun and the Moon as well as the impact of the war on both Ceris and the people of Mother Earth drives a plot that, while deliberate in its build-up, is well-paced once the foundation has been laid.
There were times I found the writing a tad overwrought and repetitive, but overall I felt that the prose helped deliver a tone that meshed well with the themes and enhanced their poignancy. For Romance readers, there is a love triangle, which did strain the HEA, but I would still solidly classify this as Fantasy-Romance. The HEA was also bit rushed for my taste, especially since it was so hard won; I would have liked to see a more developed and fleshed out ending, but it was satisfying nonetheless. These are but minor quibbles in a book that was well executed and quite beautiful.
I was delighted to see that there will be a sequel to Star Mother, especially after reading the synopsis. I think this second book will be a perfect conclusion to this tale and provide additional satisfaction to the HEA. I am genuinely looking forward to reading it!