Author: Lesley Livingston
Genre: PNR, YA, Mystery
Publication Date: August 28, 2012 (HarperTeen – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: “Love is just the beginning… of the end.”
Mason Starling is a champion fencer for Gosforth Academy, but she’s never had to fight for her life. Until now. When a ferocious storm rips through Manhattan and unleashes terrifying creatures onto Gosforth’s campus, Mason barely escapes alive. Without help from the mysterious stranger who appeared in the midst of the storm, she might not have made it at all. But now, in the aftermath, Mason’s life begins to spin dramatically, mystically out of control, and the only one who seems able to help her is the stranger who can remember nothing but his name: Fennrys Wolf.
As Mason and Fenn uncover more about Fenn’s past and the strange events that surround them, they realize that Mason’s family — and its dark allegiance to the ancient Norse gods — is at the center of everything. A predetermined fate seems to be closing in on Mason, but is it possible to change one’s destiny?
☆: 4.5/5 stars – can I have book two now, please?
Review: Here’s what makes me different from a lot of fans who liked this book – I really did NOT like the previous trilogy featuring Fennrys Wolf, “Wondrous Strange”. I couldn’t get into it, couldn’t relate to it. But in “Starling”, Livingston feels like a totally new writer. I didn’t want to throw the book across the room, I didn’t want to punch the heroine. Livingston has made leaps and bounds of progress in “Starling”, and you can definitely bet that I’m reading book two.
Now, what I’m not sure of – if it really is insta-love or not between Fenn and Mason. Why? We’re not given a good sense of time within this story. The storm that Fenn comes out of is the one marker in “real time” (as opposed to the Ragnarok countdown for the rest of the plot) that we get, but we don’t get much other than that. But honestly, the relationship that grows between Mason and Fenn does feel natural, so I’m thinking that this stretches out over a course of weeks/months instead of just days. That would be a vote of eh, maybe to no on insta-love.
What I loved: the mythology. Livingston threw all of these different cultures and legends together in one big mixing pot and it all worked. Gosforth as a school/protection ring for all of those families from all of those mythologies really worked, and mostly because it wasn’t harped upon constantly like in books like “Kiss of Frost” (which I honestly just couldn’t get through because of that). There are some awesomely clandestine meetings that go on, but there are only a few of those. Mostly, you get realistic teens who mostly don’t know about their heritage, just that their families have been going to the same school since its founding.
The worldbuilding, though, is where Livingston seems to have grown the most – she really tightened this one up, and made the characters weave successfully back into the world itself, which is what I’ve found to be a key to really good worldbuilding. And with the melting pot that is New York City/the US, it all worked. There wasn’t any one point where I raised an eyebrow because it didn’t seem like it would mesh. It all did.
While there are a few teeny bits of the book that drag, the ending more than makes up for them (hence the +.5 added overall to my score). I mean, damn. What an ending. While it looks like it can standalone, it also works well as the first in the series (which we know is going to be the case with this book). I love how the prophecy was constantly changing – that felt the most realistic out of all of the fantastic business of the book. As time changes, so do prophecies, and Livingston successfully adapted that. I love how we have an answer to who Mason’s mother is in this new mythology as well as where she ended up without it becoming a huge mystery hidden within the book itself.
Final verdict? Even if you’re not a fan of her other works, definitely give this book a chance. I’m so glad I did and I can’t wait for book two. It’s made my best of 2012 list, if not my favorites of 2012 list because it was just so much fun. “Starling” is out August 28 2012 from HarperTeen, so be sure to definitely check it out then!