When Stars Are Bright
By: Amber R. Duell
Publication Date: January 7th, 2020
Genre: Young Adult/Fairy Tale Retelling
Publisher: Crescent Sea Publishing
For Lina Holt, a Dutch seventeen-year-old with a flair for singing, 1930 is going to be her year. Her long-time boyfriend is about to propose and her mother will finally realize their relationship isn’t a passing phase. But when a stranger snatches her from her backyard, everything changes.
Lina is thrust into the spotlight of a New York vaudeville show where she’s paired with Nik, a mysterious pianist. The two bond during rehearsals and it doesn’t take long before Nik puts himself at risk to confess a hidden truth. Without Lina, the show is in its last season and there’s no way she’ll be allowed to slip through the owner’s fingers. Not when she carries fairy magic in her blood—an gift that turns her song into a dangerously addictive drug.
If Lina ever wants to return home, she must learn who to trust before she’s forced to remain a prisoner on stage forever.
WHEN STARS ARE BRIGHT is a historical Thumbelina retelling with a touch of magic.
I’m a big fan of fairy tale retelling stories. The ones that I have read are usually rather unique and have their own twist. However, Thumbelina is not one that I’m familiar with so in this case, I can really only base it on the historical setting and its young adult story elements.
While the story itself is rather predictable in its foundation, there are quite a few decent elements used here. For one, the fantastical elements used such as injecting the magical bits in its characters and the different abilities that these characters have especially the show crew that the main character Lina meets as she learns about her own abilities in this world that is unknown to her. Have the moment for its characters reveal their own abilities and then using this and the situation that they are pushed into gives the character a good level of development, which is always a good element to have in a young adult story. The 1930s historical setting is also one that almost always fascinating to use as it gives it a lot of charm as well as its societal conflicts to revolve around.
While Amber R. Duell has written quite a few books as well as some book series, this is the first book of hers that I’ve read and its definitely a fun book to read. Its a good world to dive into. The characters here focus mostly on Lina and Nik and it navigates a lot as their friendship grows and she starts to slowly trust him more despite her unfortunate situation that causes her to end up in the show in the first place, hoping to find a way home. Of course, things are what they seem on the surface, especially the people that she meets. Its in these little moments of character building that the story shines at its best.
The endgame of the whole thing does do a good job at giving it a decent set-up. The ending itself is rather bittersweet, probably more bitter than sweet, but that all depends on how you connect with Lina’s story in the first place. At the same time, there is a good deal of cleverness at the end that makes sure to add in the element of the fairy tale retelling that was a pleasant surprise.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amber R. Duell is an award-winning young adult author, Navy wife, and mom of 2 awesome boys. She has been a #WriteMentor mentor since 2018 and is a co-host on the live broadcast show Young Adult Edition. Red Bull keeps her kicking.
Giveaway: Win a paperback copy of When Stars Are Bright!
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