Jen reviews Falling Through Stars, a stand-alone Fantasy novel by Staci Olsen as part of the Wyrd and Wonder 2022 event.
Thank you to Staci Olsen for the review copy in exchange of an honest review!
Throughout May we are taking part in the Wyrd and Wonder event, celebrating all things Fantasy. Find out more about Wyrd and Wonder 2022, check out what Queen’s Book Asylum is planning, and please make sure you check out their Twitter and/or Instagram and join all the fun activities going around!
|Series: stand-alone||Genre: low fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: Aug 18, 2021||Trigger Warnings: violence/death|
|Page count: 308||Publisher: Self-Published|
After crashing her dogsled into the frozen river, Ts’ellbah fears something is wrong, something deeper than the inexplicable new scar over her heart. She feels like a stranger in her own skin and struggles to remember her closest friends and family. At first, her clan is relieved that she survived the accident. But on a night when red spirit lights stain the sky like blood, Ts’ellbah suffers her first violent seizure and sees a vision in which a revered elder encounters a mythical monster and dies. When her announcement of the elder’s death proves correct, many are convinced something evil possessed her in the dark river. They believe she killed the old man and want to cast her out. Before they do, Ts’ellbah must persuade her people that their ancient enemies have indeed returned, that they are looking for something, and they’ll destroy the entire clan to find it.
“With a shrill, crackling sound, radiant feathers of light plunged down at us. I gasped in shock as the light cascaded over my head like water, kissing the ground before reflecting upwards in a vortex of pink and green, but the light did not harm me. Swirling tongues of fire warmed my skin against the cool night air. I brushed my fingers against the dazzling wall separating me from Tikonee and watched five streaks of darkness part the light. A tingling wave swept up my arm and over my body, raising goose pimples on my skin. Looking up, I saw the spirit lights were running from the horizon across the entire sky until they fell over me in a brilliant column that rivaled the full moon in its brightness.”
Dim by SYML (this one is for Kasska)
What a nice little surprise Falling Through Stars turned out to be. I don’t read a lot of slice-of-life fantasy, it’s not a go-to for me and likely never will be but, every now and again, I find a little gem like this one that makes me think I should be reading way more of it.
After a dog sledding accident, Ts’ellbah is feeling very out of sorts. She has begun to suffer from seizures and visions – some of which come true. At first, it’s just a few but, as they increase in frequency there becomes a real fear of being banished from her clan – who believe that these are a sign of evil/possession and are a punishment for a sin against nature. Banishment would mean a death sentence for Ts’ellbah, in this beautiful, but harsh and unforgiving country where survival is possible because of the efforts of the many.
Falling Through Stars is very much a low fantasy, slice-of-life, step into the characters’ world and experience it first-hand, kind of story. It was quite lovely, almost comforting in its telling.
The writing is beautiful. The scene-setting, the interactions, and the pacing are all done well.
The author spends time allowing us to become familiar with Ts’ellbah and her world. To become a part of her home, and experience the closeness of her family, and of the clans – learning how they survive and are one with the world around them. At the same time, we see Ts’ellbah struggle with the changes within herself, and the fear of what they might be, and their likely consequences.
While abundant, there is also restraint in the details – I know it sounds like an oxymoron but, they are there to let us live the story, and are given in a way that breezes us through the everyday tasks of living, in a natural, almost matter-of-fact way. The daily life of Ts’ellbah and her family was engaging, always interesting, and hard to put down. I read this book in chunks – not something I usually do, even with fast-paced ones.
The story is one that even though you kind of know where it’s headed, that knowledge doesn’t keep you from being invested in getting to that point.
I loved how the tension slowly builds. There are some creepy moments and hints at the dangers to come- from the spirit wolf, from the Den, from Ts’ellbah herself, and even from the clan. I loved the magic – understated but beautiful and present.
But most of all, I loved Ts’ellbah. She quickly became a favourite because in that short little window of time we shared in her growth and the ups and downs of what life had to teach her – she won my heart.
I felt Ts’ellbah’s frustration when no one would believe her and her triumphs when they did. I felt her hurt from any snub from the clan, or friends, and her hopes for Tikonee, to return her affection. And my heart broke to pieces and I cried my eyes out, at her losses. What a great character and what a beautiful story this was. I hope more people find and experience Falling Through Stars because it deserves to be found.
If you have any interest in the living-off-the-land way of life (or even if you don’t) then you will find Falling Through Stars incredibly fascinating. As a family of farmers/ranchers and northerners, I found it refreshing to read about a lifestyle, that the author obviously knows and understands.
Loved the story of Raven and Eagle.
The bitter cold descriptions are spot on – I could almost tell you the temperature in those scenes.