Updated: Jan 7
(received an ARC copy of The Lord of Stariel from NetGalley – in exchange, this is my honest review)
4 out 5 stars
The Lord of Stariel by A.J. Lancaster tells the enchanting tale of Hetta Valstar; delving into the history – and secrets – of her family and her friends. She had been gone for six years, and arriving back at her family estate – Stariel – proved that there were more secrets and lies hidden within those walls than she remembered. The death of her Father brings more than old family members into the estate, and she suddenly isn’t the only one in her household able to use magic.
The first half of ‘The Lord of Stariel’ was pretty easy to grasp and more-or-less predictable; the world building was unique and easy enough to grasp, as was the hierarchy of Hetta’s family and her current situation. Even the mid-point twist was expected. It was easy enough to figure out what would happen with Hetta’s character. But what I wasn’t expecting was the second half of the book. The revelations after the new Lord of Stariel was chosen threw me off as a reader completely. And I loved it.
I did, however, guess correctly who the bad-guy was, but I’ll leave it at that. My guess was mostly a speculation made late at night while making all kinds of assumptions while I read.
The character of Hetta was interesting, but I felt like there was a lack of depth, a lack of understanding between myself and her. There were chances for her to be less two-dimensional and more fleshed out, but overall, she was an interesting character to read from, and her character growth from the beginning of the book compared to how she ended up was both enjoyable and great to read.
Other characters, too, suffered from this minor blandness: Marius, her brother, and Jack, her cousin, could have used some more depth. Even with the intricately plotted storyline, it felt like they weren’t quite doing their part as a whole. Similarly, characters like Wyn and Grandmamma, who were both the most interesting characters in the book, still didn’t have enough depth to make me all the more attached to them as I finished this great book.
Through odd twists and ferocious turns, A.J. Lancaster really wove an intricately unique story that gave me Celtic vibes while also playing with fairy mythology and legend. The ending oddly made me feel content, both as a wrap up to this first book in a series, and as book on its own. Did I feel like the stakes could have been raised a little higher in the end? Yes. It felt like there was a slight lull in the ending where there should have been action packed scenes with more accents of the forbidden romance suggested throughout the story. But I was still satisfied with how it ended over all; it kept me hooked up until the very last page, and I was somewhat surprised when it did finish.
Overall, ‘The Lord of Stariel’ by A.J. Lancaster was a hidden gem of magic, fairy tales, and interesting twists and characters. Book two, based on the excerpt at the end of this book, proves to be just as interesting as its predecessor.
check it out on goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41838393-the-lord-of-stariel