Tag Archives: Elizabeth Bunce

Starcrossed

Bunce, Elizabeth C. Starcrossed (2010). 351 Pages. Scholastic.$17.99

I’ve been eying Starcrossed since I read A Curse Dark as Gold, and an opportunity to read it finally presented itself. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of starting this book in the evening, and I could not bring myself to put it down. It was 5am when I finally went to sleep. It’s a wonderful adventure story for fans of fantasy and political intrigue.

Synopsis

In a world with seven moons, there are seven gods who each have their roles, and who were once worshiped equally. Eighteen years before the novel starts, everything changed. The followers of Celys– the Great Mother goddess– declared war against the followers of Sar– the patroness of magic– and by extension all other gods. To be a magic user or a Sarist is to be a treasonous heretic, which is punishable by gruesome death. In this dark, unbalanced world, a cruel king rules, aided by Lord High Inquisitor Werne the bloodletter. The only hope for the common people is the hope that King Bardolph will name Prince Wierolf as heir, rather than Prince Astilan (who is known to be as cruel as his uncle.)

Sixteen year-old Digger is not concerned with politics or religion, she is merely concerned with surviving. (Something which was much easier before she and Tegen were ambushed by Greenmen.) Now Digger is on the run, alone, and unable to trust anyone. When a group of drunk nobles offer her a chance to escape Gerse, she takes it. Soon, Digger is disguised as Celyn Contrare, safely hidden in the snow-bound, remote Bryn Shaer, working as lady’s maid to Lady Merista Nemair. What was looking to be a quiet winter in the castle, waiting for spring, is quickly turning into the most dangerous situation Digger has ever been involved in.

First Lines

I couldn’t think. My chest hurt from running, and I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place. Tegen had given my directions to a tavern on the river– was this where he’d told me to go, if things went wrong?

It didn’t matter. I had to get off the streets. Behind me, the Oss splashed moonslight over a row or fiverside storefronts, bright enough for me to make out the sign of a blue wine bottle and the short flight of stairs down into the alley. Down was shadows and safety. I took it.

Thoughts

I was entranced from the first, unable to stop reading for fear that I might miss something.* The world is unique, the characters strong and dynamic, the writing effective and descriptive without meandering. All told, it’s a very well-done book which I truly enjoyed reading.

Digger is a fascinating character; a runaway with a mysterious past whose only goal until recently has been to survive. She’s a clever girl who uses her wits and some thieving skills to get by** and until recently has been under the radar. We meet Digger as she realizes that Tegan has died– a death she spends most of the book getting over; he was her lover as well as her partner– and that she must get out of the city. Things don’t ever seem to get easier, but her determination keeps her going. It is perhaps the fact that she keeps going, rather than lapsing into self-pity that makes her so very interesting. She is a strong character, a girl who can (and does) kick butt.

Surrounding Digger is an equally as interesting and important supporting cast; Meri most especially, but also the others stuck at Bryn Shaer. There is a mystery surrounding the place and the people, a mystery which Digger uncovers. There is a lot more going on in this novel than can be resolved in 351 pages; there is at least one more volume (Liar’s Moon) coming.

As a whole, I thought the book was well-done and very, very interesting. It moves along much more quickly than A Curse Dark as Gold did, which makes it more appealing to people who need faster pacing. This story gets a 5/5, and if you like fantasy with political intrigue at all, I would strongly suggest reading it.

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* When I’m reading, I’m not seeing words on the page, rather, it’s like my own mental cinema. I sometimes forget that I can “pause” by closing the book.

** Character-wise, Digger reminds me of Tamora Pierce’s Aliane Cooper. Setting-wise, she reminds me of Beka Cooper. However, Digger’s story is unique enough that the similarities are not a bad thing.

The story continues in Liar’s Moon, release date TBD

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Paranormal

A Curse Dark as Gold

Bunce, Elizabeth C. A Curse Dark as Gold (2009). 392 Pages. Scholastic. $9.99

The Synopsis:

The Stirwaters Woolen Mill has been the center of Shearing (a small English town, pre-Industrial era) for nearly a hundred years, and it has always had bad luck. So have the Millers– the family has owned it since it was built, and never once has a son lived to inherit. The townsfolk whisper of a curse, but strong, practical, determined Charlotte Miller refuses to believe in nonsense.

Perhaps it is a good thing that Charlotte is so practical, because after her father’s death, she inherits nothing but debt and problems. Before his death, her father borrowed £2,000 from Uplands Mercantile, and they are collecting upon the debt immediately. The Stirwaters Mill is the center of the town’s economy, and if it closes the entire town loses their livelihoods. Desperate to keep that from happening, Charlotte will do anything to save her family’s mill, so when a mysterious stranger offers her a chance to save the mill (at a small price), Charlotte accepts.

Of course, Charlotte will soon learn that the bank is the least of her problems…

First Lines:

When my father died, I thought the world would come to an end. Standing in the churchyard in my borrowed mourning black, I was dimly aware of my sister Rose beside me, the other mourners huddled round the grave. Great dark clouds gathered over the river, and I knew them for what they were: The End, poised to unleash some terrible wrath and sweep us all right out of the Valley. I let go my hold on Rosie’s arm, for I was ready to be swept away.

Thoughts:

There are times when books build slowly, bit by bit, adding in the pieces and building the story. Before you know it, you’re enthralled. Charlotte is a strong lead, one whose logic you can follow (even if you don’t agree with it) and whose dedication to her home and family is paramount in her life. She is a bit too pigheaded at times (which can be frustrating to the reader) but it is part of her character. She is surrounded by friends and family, townfolk who have their own stories (which are expanded upon as appropriate) and every character seems to serve a purpose.

Because the story is loosely based on “Rumpelstiltskin,” major plot points are predictable, but that does not detract from the story. The fact that Charlotte is her own person, with such a strong personality means that you’re not entirely sure how they’ll get from point A to point B.

I am not an impatient reader. I am willing to give the author time to build their universe (perhaps a trait from reading the works of Robin McKinley, which frequently start slow and build up steam as they move along) and I truly appreciate the way it all comes together. Of the complaints that I came across in bad reviews (on goodreads) was pacing– quite a few people thought it was too slow. If you prefer books that drop you right into the action, this is not the book for you. If you do not mind giving it a bit of time to build up to the main story, then by all means, do pick up a copy.

I loved this book, despite not loving Rumpelstiltskin. It is far from my favorite fairy tale, but I think this particular interpretation is a significant improvement over the original. This book gets a 5/5.

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The funny thing about this particular book is that I got it on a book binge, and it’s been sitting here waiting to be read for a few days. Then I read about StarCrossed somewhere, and was looking for that, but when the local Borders didn’t have it, I decided to read a book that I already had at home, which is when I figured out that I already had one book by Elizabeth Bunce. My mom and I had a bit of a laugh over that one. (The pair of us have a bad habit of re-buying books, or buying a billion books by one author before we figure out that we’ve been doing it. For example, we have three or four copies of several Kay Hooper and Lynsay Sands books.)

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Filed under Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction