Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

Starling House by Alix E. HarrowStarling House by Alix Harrow
Published by Tor on October 3, 2023
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 308
Format: Hardcover
Also by this author: The Once and Future Witches, A Spindle Splintered

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

About Starling House

Synopsis from the publisher: Eden, Kentucky, is just another dying, bad-luck town, known only for the legend of E. Starling, the reclusive nineteenth-century author and illustrator who wrote The Underland–and disappeared. Before she vanished, Starling House appeared. But everyone agrees that it’s best to let the uncanny house―and its last lonely heir, Arthur Starling―go to rot.

Opal knows better than to mess with haunted houses or brooding men, but an unexpected job offer might be a chance to get her brother out of Eden. Too quickly, though, Starling House starts to feel dangerously like something she’s never had: a home.

As sinister forces converge on Starling House, Opal and Arthur are going to have to make a dire choice to dig up the buried secrets of the past and confront their own fears, or let Eden be taken over by literal nightmares.

If Opal wants a home, she’ll have to fight for it.

My thoughts about Starling House

Written in first person, Opal, high school dropout and grifter is willing to do whatever she can to make sure her younger brother can escape Eden for a better future. Opal has the hard, sassy exterior of someone who doesn’t care but it’s not true. She’s just been punched in the face by life, over and over. And yet she’s still determined to get up and keep going because of the love and devotion she has for her brother. Willing to put her own life on hold, forever if she needs to.

Arthur gives her the chance to earn money for her brother’s college fund. And as a bonus, he offers Opal the chance to have something for herself – time with a man she’s intrigued by and maybe attracted to. Until she discovers that there’s more to Arthur than being a wealthy, standoffish recluse. And she has to decide what’s most important.

I love that while Opal has that grifter, outlaw exterior, she’s totally true to herself and her own code of ethics. She’s willing to do whatever it takes, no matter the cost to herself, to help the ones she cares about.

Starling House showcases Alix E. Harrow’s trademark gorgeous, atmospheric, lush writing. If you’ve never read any of her books, do yourself a favor and rectify that ASAP. She’s a master at weaving intricate plots, often featuring family ties, with vivid descriptions, and emotional punches that will leave you reeling and possibly experiencing a book hangover when you finish.

If you want the full punch in the feels experience with a heady dose of women fighting for their place in society while supporting each other and tangled family ties, pick up The Once and Future Witches.

If you’re a fairytale nerd, read the contempory retelling of Sleeping Beauty, A Spindle Splintered.

In closing

Starling House with its intricately plotted story line weaving past injustices with present ones with revenge and retribution with a through line of family secrets is an engrossing and moving read.

Starling House is the perfect readalike for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Erin Morgenstern with its dark contemporary fantasy, shades of the Gothic.

A Reese’s Book Club Pick, GoodReads Choice for Fantasy 2023, Best Fantasy nominee 2023.

Thank you, Tor Books for the DRC!

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About Alix Harrow

Alix has been a student and a teacher, a farm-worker and a cashier, an ice-cream-scooper and a 9-to-5 office-dweller. She’s lived in tents and cars, cramped city apartments and lonely cabins, and spent a summer in a really sweet ’79 VW Vanagon Westfalia. She has library cards in at least five states.

​Now she’s a full-time writer living in with my husband and two semi-feral kids in Berea, Kentucky. It is the best of all possible worlds.

Her writing is represented by Kate McKean at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency.

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