February 28, 2017
Curse of Stars, by Donna Compositor
Sabi Perez is the last Diamond Crier, only she doesn’t know it. Not until a crazed ruler from another world comes to collect her priceless tears and won’t take no for an answer. Living in New York, Sabi’s seen some nasty things, but the lengths to which her captor will go to keep his crown are things found only in the darkest nightmares. Afraid and alone, Sabi finds solace in her cellmate, Anya, and Cabal, a fellow Crier who also has powers, a rare combination that buys his favor from the ruler. Only it’s a favor he doesn’t want. In a fit of rage, power erupts out of Sabi, the same power Cabal has, and a spark of hope ignites. Together they may have a chance at escape, something no other Crier has done. Except a ruler hellbent on draining them of every last diamond tear isn’t their only hurdle. If they escape they’ll be hunted to the ends of the earth, if they survive the trek to safety. If they stay the ruler will leech them dry. Sabi would rather die trying than lie down and die, even if that means running away into even more danger.
I saw Curse of Stars on Netgalley, and I was interested in Donna’s work. The story is a rather novel take on a standard YA trope: A young woman is something more than she had originally thought, and she’s thrust into a situation where her true hidden talents are revealed resulting in her impressing the first cold and now hot native who just wants her to reach her full potential and rid both worlds of a particular evil that scores of trained persons couldn’t defeat in all the years she was hidden in exile on Earth.
Following existing tropes is not necessarily a bad thing, and Donna’s story definitely has an interesting take. Sabi Perez cries diamonds. The bad guy wants her for her ability. But wait, she has hidden allies! The story is most definitely dark, even bleak. There’s lots of action, and what romance is in the story is minimal. Young Adult novels tend to be cheery or angsty, so it was nice to read a YA story that that didn’t shy away from difficult situations or ignore the negativity that the world Sabi ends up in is not a nice place. Donna doesn’t ignore the fact that people are sometimes selfish, and do things to hurt people to get what they want. The tense storytelling requires you to keep reading until the end.
Fans of YA will enjoy Curse of Stars. It’s pretty much standard fare as far as the genre is concerned. Fans of dark fiction, or even grimdark fantasy will also enjoy it. Personally, I’d rate it just shy of four stars. Hopefully I’ll see Donna at Phoenix Comicon this year, and I can say “hello.”
Donna Compositor has been writing since she was in the single digits when she first realized she needed to do something about all the thoughts in her head. After a stint with bad poetry she finally found her way to novels, mainly of the young adult fantasy variety. When she’s not cranking out more stories she works a regular 9 to 5, reads anywhere from 2 to 3 books a week, drinks copious amounts of tea, eats way too much, and makes her own beauty products because her skin turns into a sentient hive if she uses anything else. This is mostly because she lives in the desert where the air siphons water clean out of her. She lives with a man named Steve and several quadrupeds: three cats named Renfield, Sam, and Dean; and a MinPin named Malfoy.