Book Review: Lord of Stariel by A.J. Lancaster

Summary:

Everyone knows who the magical estate will choose for its next ruler. Or do they?

Will it be the lord’s eldest son, who he despised?

His favourite nephew, with the strongest magical land-sense?

His scandalous daughter, who ran away from home years ago to study illusion?

Hetta knows it won’t be her, and she’s glad of it. Returning home for her father’s funeral, all Hetta has to do is survive the family drama and avoid entanglements with irritatingly attractive local men until the Choosing. Then she can leave.

But whoever Stariel chooses will have bigger problems than eccentric relatives to deal with.

Winged, beautifully deadly problems.

For the first time in centuries, the fae are returning to the Mortal Realm, and only the Lord of Stariel can keep the estate safe.

In theory.

Goodreads

Thoughts:

Eeeeeeee! I loved this book so very much I just want to yell about it incoherently, but I’m going to try and write this review anyway and hopefully my thoughts won’t be too jumbled. 🙂

I’ve actually had this book in my TBR for about a year or so after reading a review of it by a fellow blogger but I never got around to reading it. Suddenly a couple of my book friends were talking about it on twitter and going on about how good it is and since I pretty much trust their recommendations to be spot on to my own tastes I finally decided to dive into this one. I AM SO GLAD but also kicking myself for not having picked it up sooner! This book hits so many of my sweet spots: a well-developed female lead, amazing cast of side characters, romantic sub-plot, flirting and some mild UST, the fae!, women being awesome despite society’s bullshit, a fantasy of manners type feel, family, lots of secrets, great character arcs, even more secrets, a mystery to solve, etc. Basically it feels like this book was written almost specifically for me. I mean, I know it wasn’t but it definitely feels like it. (If it had vampires I’d definitely become suspicious that the author somehow saw into my mind…)

The way the author was able to build the story from the main character having to deal with her father’s death to dealing with all sorts of multiple problems at once, suddenly finding herself juggling ten thousand things and doing it well (surprising herself in the bargain) was so well done. I loved Hetta, the main character, so very much. She recognizes her own strengths and weaknesses and isn’t afraid to ask for help when she needs it or assert herself when others are underestimating her. She’s never cocky about it though, she does things with a great deal of thought and humility, having suddenly found herself thrust into a position she never thought she’d find herself. I loved seeing her relationships with the other characters in the book, especially those of her family. She’s been estranged for quite some time so it was interesting to see how they interacted–some accepting her back with open arms while others were wary or outright hostile. Her relationship with her elder brother, who it’s clear she’s been the closest with out of all her siblings, was lovely to me. Of course they are siblings and prone to the regular ups and downs but it was also genuinely lovely to see a sibling relationship depicted in such a positive light. I don’t know that we get all that much of these in fantasy as family is so often the source of betrayal.

So, here is Hetta juggling all these things and doing it well. It was so refreshing to see her competence. Sure she was unsure of herself sometimes, having doubts of her own ability, but it’s clear that she’s doing the best she can and she’s also trying to do the right thing for everyone involved. The multiple plot threads that she’s dealing with were interwoven really well and kept me guessing which incidents were related or maybe part of separate mystery to be solved. I also love how the author sets things up right from the beginning and it’s not until later in the story that the characters (and you, the reader) recognize the significance of certain details. I really loved the world-building in this too–the history of Stariel when it’s revealed is quite interesting and magical. If there was any bit of criticism I think that maybe the pace was a little slow at times in the first half of the book but the pace did pick up significantly toward the end.

Overall, I loved this book so much! I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book and have already picked up a copy to read–I don’t think it will be long before I get to it. 5/5 stars.

22 thoughts on “Book Review: Lord of Stariel by A.J. Lancaster

  1. Jessica says:

    This all sounds really good! If you don’t mind, I’d like to hear more about how the fae were written and characterized. Also, were there any elements about this book that you disliked?

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Hmm, the Fae seemed pretty standard Fae? They can’t lie, etc. But they’re not all good or bad? But in general they’re not in harmony with humans. Also there’s a whole back story that comes out with the fae lands having been pretty much shut off from human lands for a long time (with a few exceptions). I can’t think of anything that I really disliked other than that there was a lot going on, but it kind of ties together at the end.

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