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Starling House by Alix E Harrow : a review

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts about Starling House by Alix E Harrow.

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Book cover for Starling House by Alix E Harrow.  Starlings and flowers cover the page

Starling House by Alix E Harrow

  • Category :  Contemporary Fantasy
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09GPKTCYZ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Tor (31 Oct. 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 8684 KB
  • Amazon  |  Waterstones  |  Goodreads

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Starling House Summary

Nobody in Eden remembers when Starling House was built. But the town agrees it’s best to let this ill-omened mansion – and its last lonely heir – go to hell. Stories of the house’s bad luck, like good china, have been passed down the generations.

Opal knows better than to mess with haunted houses, or brooding men. But when an opportunity to work there arises, the money might get her brother out of Eden. Starling House is uncanny and full of secrets – just like Arthur, its heir. It also feels strangely, dangerously, like something she’s never had: a home. Yet Opal isn’t the only one interested in the horrors and the wonders that lie buried beneath it.

Sinister forces converge on Eden – and Opal realizes that if she wants a home, she’ll have to fight for it. Even if it involves digging up her family’s ugly past to achieve a better future. She’ll have to go down, deep down beneath Starling House, to claw her way back to the light . . .

Starling House Review

I loved this dark fairytale.  Alix E Harrow spins known fantasy and myths into something whole and new in Starling House.  With family drama, politics, sins of the rich and a sprinkling of romance there was lots to keep me interested alongside the magical.

26-year-old Opal is independent and puts a lot of pressure on herself.  Life experiences have taught her to have low expectations – of other people and herself.  She’s fiercely protective of her brother Jasper and wants a better life for him.  Although this can be blinding in itself … 

I liked Opal from the beginning.  Flawed and raw, her don’t care attitude is a screen for a complexity of emotions.  There were times when I just wanted to mother her, even though she wouldn’t have let me.  And times when I wanted to throttle her!

I felt Arthur’s background and reason for hanging on to the house were a perfect match for Opal.  She’d been fighting for survival all her life and I so hoped that she’d make a difference.  Not just to Arthur but so that Eden could pull itself out of the mists and miasma of despair.

Starling House is the epicentre, a gatehouse I guess you’d say, with its own characteristics and desires to either protect or harm.  It was so easy to visualise scenes here but I would liked to have seen more action in the house.

Underlying it all, is a message about home; your tribe of people and where you think you should belong.  It’s not always what you think it is.  Open yourself up, let down those barriers and feel the emotions.

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About the Author

A former academic, adjunct, cashier, blueberry-harvester, and Kentuckian, Alix E. Harrow is now a full-time writer living in Virginia with her husband and their semi-feral kids.

She is the Hugo Award-winning and NYT-bestselling author of THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY (2019), THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES (2020), a duology of fairytale novellas (A SPINDLE SPLINTERED and A MIRROR MENDED), and various short fiction. STARLING HOUSE is her recent book.

Find her on instagram (alix.e.harrow) or subscribe to her newsletter on Substack https://writtenworld.substack.com/

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