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Star Eater by Kerstin Hall – Book Review!

Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach her gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Sisterhood of Aytrium’s magical bloodline horrifies her. She wants out, whatever the cost.

So when a shadowy cabal approaches Elfreda with an offer of escape, she leaps at the opportunity. As their spy, she gains access to the highest reaches of the Sisterhood, and enters a glittering world of opulent parties, subtle deceptions, and unexpected bloodshed.

A phantasmagorical indictment of hereditary power, Star Eater takes readers deep into a perilous and uncanny world where even the most powerful women are forced to choose what sacrifices they will make, so that they might have any choice at all.

My Review.

I was gifted a review copy by the publisher & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I was so excited for this book, as soon as I read ‘cannibal nuns’ I just knew I had to read it. And while there were parts about this book I definitely enjoyed, the ending really let it down and just made the rest of the book seem kind of pointless.

Elfreda is a Sister of Aytrium, gifted with magic passed down through bloodlines. It is not a life she wants, nor would she wish it on anybody else, so when she is approached by a shadowy group of sisters asking her to spy on the highest reaches of the Sisterhood she jumps at the chance to learn more about her history and that of Aytrium. But the more Elfreda looks, the more she realises that the Sisterhood may have been built on a lie, one that has been killing both sisters and men alike, and one that through sacrifice Elfreda may just be able to end.

Hall brings us a fantastic bunch of characters in Star Eater. Through Elfreda we get a deep look into the Sisterhood, as well as seeing her life outside with friends she has grown up with, and though they all have a massive part to play in the story, Star Eater is most definitely Elfreda’s story. She has grown up knowing the fate that awaits her, knowing that once she has a child her life span is greatly lessened. She has always dreamed of a simple life, one like her friends, but knows that it’s just not meant to be. I’m not sure whether I would have her strength in light of what awaits her, she is incredibly resilient & willing to do whatever it takes to make the world a better place for everyone in it.

The world of Star Eater is unlike anything I have ever read before. The Sisterhood of Aytrium was founded when the first Sister’s ate a star, something that granted them the power of ‘Lace’, and now they eat their own to continue the line and power. But all power comes with a cost, having sex with a Sister will cause a man to become a Haunt, something that hunts for the flesh of the sisters, so to ensure the continuation of the line they force the sisters to lie with Prisoners, ensuring they are dealt with after the fact. While I found this all really intriguing and different, I just felt like it wasn’t quite built well enough for me to get a full grasp on things. I constantly felt that I was 2 steps behind the MC when things would happen, and I didn’t even know they lived on a flying Island until the last 15% of the book.

Star Eater is definitely not for the faint of heart. There are some graphic descriptions of cannibalism, as well as talk of forced sex, but I knew going in that this would be a dark book and these scenes just added to the creepiness of the overall story. I do think Hall’s descriptions were slightly lacking at some points, there were times when I had to re-read scenes a few times to get a proper grasp on what was happening, and the pacing of the book was also a little off. We spend the first 75% of the book learning about the Sisterhood, as well as the people out to stop it and then we get a big revelation, there’s a minor battle and then it just ended. I would have liked more of an explanation for the revelation, as well as a better understanding of it.

Now for the ending. I buddy read this with Susan and we had very similar reactions to reading it which were basically what have I just read. As I said above we had a lot of build up to the ending, waring Sisterhood factions, a rebellion wanting to bring it down, as well as a people who had been lied to their whole lives and it ends with a dream/hallucination and then a seemingly happy ending with no real repercussions. It all just seemed way to easy to me, and I felt a little let down after picking a side in the fight to learn that no one really took the blame in any way.

Would I recommend this? Yes, I loved the characters as well as learning all about the religion/culture, but it would most definitely come with a warning to not expect too much out of the ending. I think this is a book that may have been better as a duology as there was a lot of unanswered questions and things left open at the end, and I would have liked to see the repercussions for the Sisterhood after lying to the people of Aytrium for so long.

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