Timy reviews The Lord of Stariel, the first book in A.J. Lancaster‘s Fantasy Romance series, Stariel.
|Series: Stariel #1
|Genre: Fantasy, Romance
|Date of Publishing: November 1, 2018
|Trigger Warnings: –
|Page count: 318
|Publisher: Camberion Press
The Lord of Stariel is dead. Long live the Lord of Stariel. Whoever that is.
Everyone knows who the magical estate will choose for its next ruler. Or do they?
Will it be the lord’s eldest son, who he despised?
His favourite nephew, with the strongest magical land-sense?
His scandalous daughter, who ran away from home years ago to study illusion?
Hetta knows it won’t be her, and she’s glad of it. Returning home for her father’s funeral, all Hetta has to do is survive the family drama and avoid entanglements with irritatingly attractive local men until the Choosing. Then she can leave.
But whoever Stariel chooses will have bigger problems than eccentric relatives to deal with.
Winged, beautifully deadly problems.
For the first time in centuries, the fae are returning to the Mortal Realm, and only the Lord of Stariel can keep the estate safe.
The Lord of Stariel is the first book in the Stariel quartet.
I had a hard time choosing a song for The Lord of Stariel. I wanted a love song and a female artist – which proved to be a bit of a problem, as I don’t have many of those on my playlists. Eventually settled with Jess Glynne because I love her voice and I think one of her other songs will be great for the second book in this series. Anyway. I picked Take Me Home from her as a representation of the bond between Hetta and Stariel but also between Hetta and the person she falls in love with. I generally wanted a bit more uplifting song, but I think this one will do because of the lyrics.
Came to you with a broken faith
Gave me more than a hand to hold
Caught before I hit the ground
Tell me I’m safe, you’ve got me now
The Lord of Stariel got on my radar back in January, when everyone went crazy with that 12 books recommended by 12 friends challenge. It was not recommended to me – I think I need better friends – but that didn’t stop me from picking it up. As I was just obsessed with Downton Abbey, binging the whole series plus the available movie, and was in need of lighter books, The Lord of Stariel seemed like something that would be totally up my alley. Despite the fact, that I’m not really a big fan of romance books in general. And boy I was right. It was exactly what I needed, so much so, that I not only listened to the first book but immediately got the second too after finishing.
The Lord of Stariel is set in an imaginary kingdom, which is not unlike England in my mind, where magic is not uncommon. Working as an illusionist when you are the daughter of a lord, however, is. That still didn’t stop Hetta Valstar from following her dreams and going against his father’s will. She doesn’t return to the family home until her father passes away and Stariel needs a new lord to be chosen. The Valstar family although wealthy, are also unusual as they have a bond with their land, or as they call it, land-sense. This definitely comes in handy when one needs to find a relative, or fight off supernatural attackers. While Hetta comes to terms with her past, she also faces a series of mysteries, revelations, and a little bit of heart-thumping along the way.
From the moment I started listening, The Lord of Stariel sucked me in. I was intrigued by the Valstar family and the mystery kept me interested all the way through. I give extra points because some things even I didn’t see coming and that’s always a pleasant surprise. The romance is handled really well, so I can’t complain about that either. Actually, I really can’t complain about anything apart from it being too short. And that we didn’t get more from Hetta’s grandmother. I have a feeling that the old lady would be a delightful character if she got more spotlight.
It’s not what I’d call a fast-paced book, but that’s actually a good thing. We have enough time to savor the atmosphere, to get to know the characters and how their relationships work. The characters are well fleshed out, and all of them are relatable, if not always likable. *cough* Aunt Sibyl *cough*. I especially liked Hetta and Wyn. Hetta took to the challenges very well and she is no damsel in distress kinda heroine. She is strong-willed, decisive, and has a sharp wit. And she is not afraid to take up leadership when it’s needed.
The Lord of Stariel mostly focuses on the Valstar family and their current problems but we also get a peek at what’s coming. The Fae make their appearance and we get enough background about their current politics to build upon later in the series. It being the first book of a series, it has to lay down some foundations and it does that brilliantly while keeping the reader thoroughly entertained with a mystery. And a bit of romance on the side.
I don’t know if it’s because I was really engrossed by Downton Abbey, but I couldn’t stop thinking The Lord of Stariel is what would happen if Downton Abbey was set in a Fantasy world. I also need to mention the narrator of the audiobook, Finty Williams, who did an absolutely stellar job bringing this book to life. And I’m sure I’ll pay more attention to A.J. Lancaster in the future. Until then, on to the next book!