Review: Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis

spinning starlight -R.C. lewisSixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

4 Drink Me Potions

Thank you to Netgalley and Disney Book Group for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**Spinning Starlight comes out on October 6, 2015**

Can I first just say that I absolutely adored this book? Oh, and that TITLE along with the cover? Just. Gorgeous.

For an adaptation and fairy tale retelling of a story that’s not as famous as some others, Lewis did a fantastic – no, a SPECTACULAR – job of spinning out Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans in her own way. And going into this, I had not read her previous novel, Stitching Snow, but I think I may have to after seeing the remarkable way she spins a tale. (Yes, I’m really going all out with the word spin here.)

Liddi initially impressed me as some spoiled girl who lived in the spotlight because her family’s big and rich in this interplanetary kingdom. She went to parties, had media following her around everywhere and a house (with a talking operating system as her friend) to herself. But that was just initially, which lasted all of maybe ten seconds. It was immediately apparent that she was none of these things. She hated the paparazzi. She never asked for the attention that came with being born into the Jantzen family, and there was so much pressure to live up to that name and the glory of each and every single one of her 8 big brothers.

Now, the tech speak and the physics of things went beyond me. That’s not my specialty. At all. But the feeling of isolation and the need to create something technological to impress the world WAS understandable. Lewis didn’t immediately make it clear what this world was exactly. It was maybe revealed in the odd sentence here and there. For example, the world is called Seven Points. What’s that supposed to mean? Okay, 7 planets as each individual points? That makes sense. Wait, what are they each called? What is the one she’s on? Is there something special about each one?

Okay, the answers slowly piled in but it took a while to understand it. There was no information dump at all, which is a blessing and curse at the same time. It took more effort on my part to get into the story in the beginning when I was confused with half of what was going on and the terminology that was being thrown around. So maybe a little information dump, more like an information pile, would have been appreciated. That’s my only complaint.

From there, danger dropped onto Liddi and the story unfolded a little slow. Who was the bad guy? Where were her brothers? If you knew of The Wild Swans, you’re just waiting for the pieces to start falling together.

But the wait was worth it. Once Liddi lost her voice and the whole evil plot involving her brothers was laid out, it was better than I thought it could be. A surprising twist there, new characters there, it took me on a wild ride indeed. It was absolutely genius in mixing this tale with sci-fi aspects like portal travelling and being trapped in a hyperdimensional state, not fully in the physical world but not fully out of it either.

Lewis put her own mark on Andersen’s basic plot and really made it her own. I want to say so much more about plot things, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise of just what they are so that limits it.

What I will say is that I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy a book that contained more descriptive writing than dialogue. It wasn’t possible for that if Liddi couldn’t speak. We were just constantly in her head, reading her thoughts and her emotions. The anxieties of time limiting her and the constant fear for her brothers’ safety. Her memories and flashbacks to her past when more of her brothers lived at home with her and when her parents were still alive. There was so much GOOD content and it was written well. It had to be or else all these monologues would just get beyond tiring. It’s an easy trap to fall into and I can’t stress enough how well Lewis did to keep me interested.

And the relationships. Oh my, the feels! There was so much love for her brothers, each and every one of them. It was clear she would do absolutely ANYTHING for them. Come on, there are EIGHT brothers. That’s a lot of people to love, but the flashbacks really helped us understand their relationship with her and how much they all loved and wanted to protect their baby sister, no matter what. There was also a romantic sort of love as well, which didn’t get my heart racing as much as other books may, but it was the sweet kind of love that is reminiscent and suiting for fairy tales. So I’m definitely not complaining.

The ending was not what I expected, but that’s not to say it wasn’t good either. And it was summed up in a quote that I must put down here, which is a testament of how relateable Liddi’s character can be to anyone who reads Spinning Starlight.

“Some journeys can only be made once. Some partings aren’t what they seem. Some endings must be so something else can begin.”

And with that thought hanging on the mind, so did the story end as well.

Overall Recommendation:
Spinning Starlight was a beautifully written prose and modern adaptation of The Wild Swans. With a protagonist who was mute, the writing did centre more on the inner monologue in Liddi’s head than dialogue with others, but that in itself was done so well that it didn’t feel like it dragged the story. It enhanced it. Mixing the old fairy tale with new sci-fi elements and tech speak, it may get confusing in the beginning but I definitely recommend you check out this clever and gorgeous retelling for yourself. I don’t think it would disappoint.

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