Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fantastic Fairytales - Starling by Lesley Livingstone

Published: August 28th, 2012
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 341
Copy: My own
Summary: Goodreads

Mason Starling is a champion fencer on the Gosforth Academy team, but she's never had to fight for her life. Not until the night a ferocious, otherworldly storm rips through Manhattan, trapping Mason and her teammates inside the school. Mason is besieged by nightmarish creatures more terrifying than the thunder and lightning as the raging tempest also brings a dangerous stranger into her life: a young man who remembers nothing but his name--the Fennrys Wolf. His arrival tears Mason's world apart, even as she feels an undeniable connection to him. Together, they seek to unravel the secrets of Fenn's identity as strange and supernatural forces gather around them. When they discover Mason's family--with its dark allegiance to ancient Norse gods--is at the heart of the mystery, Fennrys and Mason are suddenly faced with a terrifying future.

Set against the gritty, shadowed back-drop of New York City, this first novel in award-winning author Lesley Livingston's epic Starling Saga is an intoxicating blend of sweeping romance and pulse-pounding action.

I suspect some of you will be thinking to yourselves  - why is Curlypow putting a book about Norse gods in the Fantastic Fairytales slot?  Well - Starling is a combination of Fae creatures and Norse mythology and one of the main characters is a member of the Janus guard (a la Wondrous Strange trilogy), which is to do with the Faerie realm.  Although if you haven't read Wondrous Strange et al, that fact is not really significant, 'cos it isn't mentioned in the book.  In fact the Fennrys Wolf has lost his memory, which causes all sorts of problems.  Let's just say that in my mind, it fits as a fairytale and leave it at that!

I think the only thing I didn't like about Starling is the main characters' name - Mason.  Just doesn't sound like a girls name to me - but the reason for it is very nicely explained and makes perfect sense.   Mason fences, literally.  You see she is on the fencing team at her school.  Comes in pretty handy when you're fighting of all sorts of nasty, clawing creatures.  She is a strong character with some vulnerabilities and I found her easy to relate to. The Fennrys Wolf arrives on the scene with a jaw-dropping bang, and even though I remember him as a particularly enigmatic character from previous books, you just can't help but fall for him here. Lots of interesting minor characters pop in and out and many will surprise you.  Allegiences are not always what you think they should be, and the twists and turns are fascinating.  Mason's brother Rory is a particularly nasty piece of work.

There is something about the way that Ms Livingstone strings words together that I just love. She manages to produce an atmosphere that will have your heart pounding. I find it so easy to actually picture scenes in my mind when I read her words. Now I'm prepared to admit that I am an absolute fangirl when it comes to Livingstone's work. The fact that I have met her and that she narrates her own audio books comes into play, because as I was reading, I could almost hear her in my mind, and she has this deep, plummy voice that is perfect for narration - well she is an actress after all.

Starling has multiple layers to it and as the story progresses you realise that there is much, much more going on than meets the eye. The whole story is based on Norse mythology that has obviously been meticulously researched  and the result is a tense, roller coaster ride that starts in the first chapter and doesn't stop - not even at the end - damn those cliff hangers. Exciting, romantic, thrilling and lots of fun, give yourself a treat and read Starling.  The only disappointment will be that we have to wait so long for the sequel.

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