AVAILABLE IN HARDBACK // REVIEW BY PHOEBE BUSH
Do you like doors into other worlds?
Good, because I just found another, in the shape of The City of Stardust – a debut by Georgia Summers. It is the twisted tale of a cursed lineage, the Everleys, who live at the mercy of a woman named Penelope – who steals one Everly per generation and never brings them back.
Sadly, this time, the Everley is Violet – a curious girl abandoned by her mother and raised by her uncles – who soon becomes drawn to Penelope’s mysterious assistant: Aleksander. For some, this collision course of opposites shall be a joy, whilst others may roll their eyes and think: really, again? The character work is mostly well done, so even if Violet is sometimes bland and Aleksander can be a collage of aesthetically-pleasing male stereotypes, their dynamic is enough to keep the narrative afloat. Penelope, to me, is simply the one driving it.
This is mostly due to her link to the worldbuilding, which is connected to the stars, as the title infers. This adds a hard-won whimsy to the book, one that leads the reader through the door to Fidelis, whilst never fully giving away its secrets. This masterful merge of reality and fantasy allows the plot to dart between both, leading the reader on a merry chase of plot-twists and beautiful descriptions.
Sadly, even the merriest of chases get tiring. The book is compiled of short chapters and scenes, making it an addictive read, but also one that may deny the reader the pleasure of lingering and forming attachments to minor characters. Location is another aspect lost in the rush, for the characters may have technology to place them in time, but the starting point could have been London or New York – as it so often is, in contemporary fantasy. This inability to suspend belief also lent itself to little things like building access, money, and travel.
It proves that even fantasy must bow to logic.
The reader must read, the author must convince them it is something that they have not read before. And, while A City of Stardust is unique, it will not escape the avid eye of those who have devoured numerous tales about magic doors – something that shall be its selling point and its potential curse.
Overall, The City of Stardust is a promising debut and a well-done standalone romantasy that shall lure you in during frosty nights and not allow you to leave, not until your warm beverage of choice has long gone cold.
3 / 5
The City of Stardust / By Georgia Summers / 352 pp. / Hodderscape / £16.99 Hardback