The Lord of Stariel by A.J. Lancaster
Time sensitive warning: this book is free today on Amazon, and I highly recommend getting it.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a mix of fantasy and classic literature, kinda like Jane Austen with magic and fae. The story is set in a world similar to regency England, based on social expectations and manners, but it’s also the beginning of a new era, one of electricity, modernization, and female freedom from male domination. Not in terms of the suffragette movement, but in terms of a modern woman returning home to a place that’s still holding onto archaic traditions, several years after she’s already experienced the freedom outside those borders.
It gives her a unique perspective, not to mention all the clashes with various family members, all of whom relate to her modernity with varying levels of acceptance and disgust.
A major portion of this book’s charm is in the family dynamics. Take a bunch of stuffy old people, mixed with teenagers, young men and ladies, all there to see which of them the land chooses as its next lord. Most of these family members remain on the estate after the event, continuing the family politics. The characters and their interactions were very well developed.
I really liked Hetta, the MC. While she ran away from home years ago to work in a “disrespectful” position, she comes back now as a strong, confident woman, the type who can wilt you with a strong word or two. She’s one of those typical regency women who are utterly confident in their position and don’t give a hoot about what others think. Or at least, that’s the way she comes across to others. It’s nice to see that in a modern woman.
Overall, this was a great mix of magic and classicism. I’m only giving three stars because it was a good book, I enjoyed reading it, especially the amazing character portrayals, but it didn’t evoke any strong emotions or a particular love for it. That’s not to say it’s a bad book. It really isn’t. But compared to others that really captivated me, this one had a more dry tone, comparable to many classics, that makes it harder to fall into its spell.
I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Edit: Months later, I still fondly remember this book. I might reread it sometime down the road. I’m surprised, because it didn’t leave such a great impression on me originally. I’ve read many books that at the time felt great, but weeks later I could barely remember what it was about. This one held up really well in my memory. I’m raising my rating to 4 stars.
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