by Alix E. Harrow
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Pub Date 03 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2023
Tor Publishing Group, Tor Books
“This book has everything you could possibly want this fall...a cursed town, a haunted house, a vivid & eerie setting—plus, characters willing to risk everything.” —Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club October ’23 Pick)
Starling House is a gorgeous, modern gothic fantasy from the New York Times bestselling author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January.
I dream sometimes about a house I’ve never seen….
Opal is a lot of things—orphan, high school dropout, full-time cynic and part-time cashier—but above all, she's determined to find a better life for her younger brother Jasper. One that gets them out of Eden, Kentucky, a town remarkable for only two things: bad luck and E. Starling, the reclusive nineteenth century author of The Underland, who disappeared over a hundred years ago.
All she left behind were dark rumors—and her home. Everyone agrees that it’s best to ignore the uncanny mansion and its misanthropic heir, Arthur. Almost everyone, anyway.
I should be scared, but in the dream I don’t hesitate.
Opal has been obsessed with The Underland since she was a child. When she gets the chance to step inside Starling House—and make some extra cash for her brother's escape fund—she can't resist.
But sinister forces are digging deeper into the buried secrets of Starling House, and Arthur’s own nightmares have become far too real. As Eden itself seems to be drowning in its own ghosts, Opal realizes that she might finally have found a reason to stick around.
In my dream, I’m home.
And now she’ll have to fight.
Welcome to Starling House: enter, if you dare.
A Book of the Month Club Pick
An October 2023 Indie Next Pick
A LibraryReads October 2023 Hall of Fame Pick
Apple, Best Books of October
EW.com, Fall Book Must Reads 2023
Washington Post, Noteworthy Books for October
Paste Magazine, The Must-Read Fantasy Books of Fall 2023
PopSugar Best New Fantasy Books of 2023
BookPage, Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2023
Observer, Must-Read Books of Fall 2023
Polygon, 12 Best New SFF for the Fall
LitHub, October’s Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books
Bookish, October’s Most-Anticipated Books
Gizmodo, October's Huge List of New Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Books
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 273 members
Once again, Alix E. Harrow wrote a magnificent book. The ambiance, the gothic vibes, the mystery, the tension between the characters, I loved it all. I like how their flaws were not hidden but played along in the plot, and how the house itself is a character of its own. I cannot wait to get my hands on that gorgeous cover once it is out !
Alix E. Harrow has written the Southern Gothic of my dreams. Rich and complicated and full of empathy for complicated people stuck in a rotten place, Starling House is exactly what I want to read when the leaves are turning and the wind is raging against the windows. It might just also be the best Beauty and the Beast retelling I've encountered. I would die for every single one of these feral idiots.
"When you've spent too long in the dark, you'll melt your own wings just to feel the sun on your skin."
Eden, Kentucky is not a lucky town for anyone. It's even unluckier for Opal, a cynical orphan who works part-time as a cashier and attempts to raise her baby brother Jasper. But Eden, Kentucky has more than just bad luck, it has the Starling House. Former home of morbid children's author E. Starling, the Starling house is far more than just an imposing Southern Mansion. It's a current resident Arthur is a mystery into himself. Opal has dreamed of the Starling House for most of her life, and when given the opportunity to work at it, she jumps at the chance to see inside, and the money it will provide. Unbeknownst to Opal, Starling House is far more than a vaguely decrepit mansion and has its own host of nightmares seeking the light.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Starling House, it's the southern gothic fairytale that I have been craving. Filled with complicated and often morally grey characters. Opal is a fantastically complicated character, filled with an incredible amount of sarcasm, and a surprising amount of compassion. Compared to Arthur who is mysterious to his core, and makes for a brilliant gothic romance companion. Bonus points for having a Hellcat in the story too. And I would be remiss if I did not mention Starling House itself, no good Gothic story is complete without a mansion. This one just happens to be sentient. The whole story oozes with atmosphere, and I can almost smell the hot summer nights in Eden, Kentucky. Nights filled with an eerie, unexplainable mist with hints of honeysuckle. An excellent read for the spooky season. Filled with the perfect combination of the unearthly and moments of coziness, the Starling House should immediately go on your TBR for October. Thank you to NetGalley and Tor for providing me with an E-ARC.
With Starling House, Alix E. Harrow captures a festering darkness in a small Southern town determined to move on from its unsavory history, and the strange house caught up in the center of it. A feral heroine and tortured heir come together under the weight of their pasts to confront demons that are more real than they could have ever realized. Alix E. Harrow is a brilliant storyteller, reaching into those dark places that must be uncovered and exposing them to the light of day, all in her own time. This twisted story will drag you down into the depths of the earth where the truth lies, and leave you clawing for more.
A more in-depth review will be provided on my blog closer to publication.