Book Review: Star Eater


Kerstin Hall

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

published: 22nd June 2021
spoilers? nope

Goodreads

All martyrdoms are difficult.

Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach her gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Sisterhood of Aytrium’s magical bloodline horrifies her. She wants out, whatever the cost.

So when a shadowy cabal approaches Elfreda with an offer of escape, she leaps at the opportunity. As their spy, she gains access to the highest reaches of the Sisterhood, and enters a glittering world of opulent parties, subtle deceptions, and unexpected bloodshed.

A phantasmagorical indictment of hereditary power, Star Eater takes readers deep into a perilous and uncanny world where even the most powerful women are forced to choose what sacrifices they will make, so that they might have any choice at all.

Galley provided by publisher

CWs: gore, cannibalism, violence, implied rape

There are some books where you start to find yourself a little bored and that boredom comes to colour every further page you read. You can’t escape the boredom, you can only hope that the ending is such that the boredom is wiped out.

Which was, sadly, the case with me and Star Eater (and, to be clear, the ending was not such that the boredom disappeared).

The book follows Elfreda, a member of the Sisterhood, a group of cannibalistic nuns who worship the Star Eater. Unassuming, or so she thinks, she finds herself caught up in a power struggle. I would say a bit more, but there really isn’t that much more to it. Perhaps that contributed to my boredom, but who knows? Perhaps not.

I think my major problems with the book stemmed from the worldbuilding. In all honesty, I was expecting more. On the whole, it just felt like your generic fantasy setting, albeit on a floating city (a fact which I could swear wasn’t brought up until the end), and with a religion centering on cannibal nuns. Which wouldn’t have been so much of a problem if I’d felt like the religion was developed in any way. I couldn’t for the life of me tell you exactly what they worshipped, what they believed in. And I don’t think that’s me forgetting things! (At least, I hope not.) There was a gap between “oh this is a cool concept” and “yes I know how this religion functions”. Not to mention, it didn’t seem to be a religion that many people followed, but the Sisterhood had the power in the city. So what’s the truth? Are those calling them corpse eaters and hating them a minority, or did the Resistance really have enough power itself to oust the Sisterhood? Who knows!

But it wasn’t just the religion where I felt the worldbuilding fell down. It was the politics too, and the way some things were introduced as if they were important — food shortages, the Resistance — and then nothing came of them. I know they weren’t relevant to the main plotline, but if you’re going to introduce those aspects as if they are (and they were introduced in that way), then they might get more than an abrupt disappearance of the problems later on. And then there was the opposite — important information regarding the world appearing at just the right time, never having been mentioned or foreshadowed before.

(I will take a brief moment to note though, that I was reading an ARC I downloaded in November(?), so it’s entirely possible that all of this no longer applies.)

(That being said, it’s the book I read so. Gotta review that.)

The book might have been redeemed if I had cared about the characters at all, but, in all honesty, I struggled to. I couldn’t really tell you why, but nothing about them stood out for me, or really interested me. So I was stuck, slogging my way through a book where the worldbuilding bored me and the characters fared barely any better.
But! I am perfectly happy to accept this was all down to me. I don’t think this was a bad book — far from it — but it wasn’t a me book. So, if you read this wondering if you should still read it, I would say yes. Do.

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