An adventure through ice – unearthing deeper mysteries than the ice the story is set on.
Publisher: HarperVoyager April 2020
Page count: 480
This is a book I have been meaning to get to since it’s release last year and I have finally had a chance to catch up with Mark Lawrence’s most recent story! I have read pretty much everything that Lawrence has written so far, and one of the things I love about his books, is how different they all are from each other. Every set of stories, follows a different group of characters and through a completely new setting, but still keeping in touch with the gritty writing that Lawrence champions. This book continues the same high stakes that all of his other books embed, making me flick through pages desperately trying to find out what happens next.
The Girl and the Stars is based around a young Itcha girl called Yaz, who begins her story by taking part in a ceremony, which will decide her fate within her village within the ice and snow. Those who are deemed too frail to survive the cold winds are pushed down an enormous hole, only leaving the strongest to keep their clans surviving. I won’t spoil why, but Yaz ends up falling down the hole and discovering a harsh and dangerous world that lives below the ice. The book is quick to endanger the character and set the tone throughout the story, that this place underground is no holiday! Yaz as a main character is fantastic and an interesting contrast to other leads such as Jorg or Nona from Lawrence’s other books. She is not overly confident or a instant genius or even a talent killer. She is an ordinary girl, who happens to inherit rare magical powers and part of her story is about her coming to terms with these powers. Yaz being more helpless and relying on the other characters around her for support, deepens the story being told and adds value to her as a character. It allows you to empathise with her more, giving you a greater understanding of how desperate her situation truly is. The other characters in the book as interesting, providing a range of different personalities and flick in and out throughout the story, supporting Yaz when she was in need. These characters are explored in some ways, but in parts of story I did feel like I could have known them a little better. Sometimes only getting a flash of information about the characters but more through their actions, instead of conversation between them.
Sometimes all your words are the wrong shape and none of them will fit into the silence left when the conversation pauses.Mark Lawrence – The Girl in the Stars.
The story has a brilliant pacing, not moving too quickly and speeding past important details or moving too slowly and making me feel like I am waiting ages for the next piece of information. The book is constantly feeding you with clues, unraveling the mystery that surrounds the story, constantly making you predict what could be happening next. The book rewards your thoughts, with even more mystery, answering enough of your questions whilst presenting you with more breadcrumbs to follow. The book ends on a brilliant cliff hanger, which only demands you read the follow up ‘The Girl and the Mountain’ – and trust me, there is no way you have reached the ending of this book, and not wanting to read what follows. The story throughout is well thought out and Lawrence has clearly planned out his novel, understanding how to unveil the story at just the right pace. There are a couple of elements where a little more time could have been devoted to them, but this could be explained in the second novel.
If you have read the Red Sister trilogy, you will instantly recognise the magic system within this book and it was wonderful to see these two sets of stories interconnect. This brought a deeper understanding of a magic system that I had already enjoyed, and having new levels introduced and a different perspective was refreshing. If you haven’t read the Red Sister books, you can happily read this story still and I am assuming it will have the same effect the other way around.
The final part that I admired about this story was the setting Lawrence had chosen – there aren’t many novels that I have read that are set within a colder climate and it is setting that I feel is under-valued. Exploring these caves was interesting and it was a perfect setting to further add to the feeling of desperation. The characters getting lost, wandering aimlessly through deep underground caverns and lost cities, is a perfect choice given the mysteries that are uncovered throughout. Added into the setting are other dangers, including a gang of tainted individuals who are out to take everyone over and giant mechanical creatures who could sweep you away.
If you are a fantasy fan, then definitely pick this book up – it is a great introduction into the world of Mark Lawrence if you have missed them out so far. I have given this book 4/5 stars!