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When Stars Come Out

[A quick note: I knew next to nothing about this book when The Bookish Box announced their special edition. Being the obsessive collector that I am, I JUMPED on it. I have read A Touch of Darkness (Just the first book) and really enjoyed it. I was not prepared for what to expect and didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Plus, look how stunning this special edition cover is with all the foil and art?! Gahhh!!]

Anora Silby can see the dead. But she’s got an even deeper secret. She can turn spirits into coins. And when one of her coins goes missing, people begin to die.

Did I love this book? Yes. Did I devour it? Also yes. I didn’t go into this with any expectations. I’ve read one of the author’s other books and liked it, but this was her YA book, and I’ve gotten super picky with my YA lately. This turned out to be one of my favorite YA reads of 2022. It’s right up there with Belladonna. There was romance (no spice, it’s YA), fun world building, and plenty of mystery to keep the pages turning. I binged the first 30% in one go. While I’m surprised it didn’t get more 5-star votes, I’m also realizing that it must have resonated with me a lot more than it did others.

Part of why I liked this was the unique world building aspect. There’s a race of supernaturals who look like humans, but can turn into crows or sprout wings in their human form. I haven’t read a lot of books with crow shapeshifters. They have a fully fleshed out social structure with strict rules. Basically, they are in charge of destroying evil. What is that evil? The dark force called “Influence,” which is slowly destroying the world. It can possess people, latching onto their sad or dark emotions. And finally, there are the gold coins that were once souls, now in need of ferrying to the afterlife. Laced throughout everything is the controversy amid the Vaylren (sp?) hierarchy.

The backdrop is a murder mystery, all while Anora is navigating a new life. She’s moved to a new town, and a new school. Not only that, she doesn’t understand that she’s someone special, and people a looking for her. There are people in her life who want to use her, and she doesn’t know who to trust.

I really liked the villain(s) of the story. Their characters were multi-faceted and we got a deep look into their wounds. It was easy to understand why they acted the way they did. I did begin to suspect them, so it was a little predictable, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment.

Another thing I appreciated were the mental health aspects portrayed between Anora and her mom. Home/family life wasn’t easy, and she struggled with her mom. The biggest challenge was that her mom didn’t believe and trust what Anora claimed she could do. She even threatened to take Anora to a mental hospital to get help. But her mom was clearly suffering from mental health issues, and they both loved each other, so seeing them navigate these challenges offered a unique perspective.

The best part is, there’s a second installment. I don’t know when it will release. I hope I don’t have to wait too long, because I’m so excited for it! I think this will be perfect for fans of JLA’s early series. 𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟓/𝟓 ⭐️

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