Cover Image: Paris By Starlight

Paris By Starlight

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Member Reviews

I really wanted to love this book as much as I loved The Toymakers.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the case. Yes, the writing is superb, the author definitely has a way with words which is something I really look for in a book. It felt magical. The concept of the book is really good.  He did a great job writing real-life issues and turn them into magical realism. It is not set in a specific timeline but it looks like it is in the modern-day.

However, at times it felt like a chore. It is a very slow burner. I didn't really enjoy the political aspect of it. I didn't like the relationship between Levon and Isabelle; it felt too rushed and no chemistry.

I did enjoy it but it didn't meet my expectations.
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Firstly, this is a beautifully written story and the story is good, however, after a while the descriptions started to get a bit wordy and started to take some of the magic away from the story. I found that the characters were well developed and had the opportunity to be good but I really disliked the relationship between Isabelle and Levon. The book confronts some difficulty issues and at times isn’t a comfortable read but overall, I enjoyed it.
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This book really is a modern fairytale.  This is a really beautifully written story told with such flair and magic but at the same time like all good fairytales it has a very difficult message to tell, that often doesn’t make comfortable reading, but it is told in the most memorable and magical of ways.  This story explores the meaning of love, family, home and second chances.
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I read this one as part of our book club and just couldn’t get into it, it was faaaaar too slow for me... the descriptions started off very beautiful and aided some great scene setting and then it just got very boring, very quickly!

I didn’t like the characters at all and this made it difficult to follow the story, I struggled to stay interested... if it wasn’t a book club book I probably would have DNFd it!
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This book started off really well and I loved the magical descriptions of the flowers and the views of Paris. However, I didn't really enjoy the relationship between Isabelle and Levon as everything seemed to move too quick and when conflict began Levon didn't stand up to it and stay by her side which didn't seem right.
There were also tiny sections at the start of each book about a little girl overlooking Paris by Starlight which were interesting to read but at the end there wasn't anything to connect it to so I didn't understand the point of these sections being included if there wasn't any connection.
I did love the stories from the Nocturne and wish we got more from them.
Overall I really wanted to like this book and it started well but it just didn't click with me.
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This was our Tsundoku Squad Book Group read for February. The book started off quite well, with beautiful descriptions which dragged us into the magic of the story. Paris by Night sounded amazing, and I could really picture the place, full of beauty, and the flowers sounded gorgeous. I honestly fell quite in love with it during the first section. 

The main character is Isabelle. She sets off to Paris in search for her Dad who left when she was young.  She meets a young girl who ends up taking her to her family, which is where Isabelle meets Levon. They fall in love quickly and Isabelle stays with the family. They don’t speak the same language but Isabelle learns to speak like them and learns their ways of life. They come from the old country, where they escaped war. They tell of their stories, their lands, their ways of life including living by night. They follow the stories and beliefs in The Nocturne. It’s all ver beautiful, until the people of Paris start to dislike the people of the night, and it turn very bad with things being damaged intentionally and people being hurt. 

The book started to trail off a bit with too much description, and after a while it took so much away from the story. Isabelle and Levon also quickly got irritating in their relationship for me, and I ended up not being a big fan. There was also too many characters and I started not to remember who was who.

Although this book started off well, I didn’t hate it but was glad I finished but the end. 

I gave this book 3 ½ stars, which I had to round up to 4 on Goodreads, as I felt it didn’t deserve a 3.

Tsundoku Squad gave it a collecive 3 stars
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A book that will convince you that fairytales really do come true. If you have read my bookstagram feed you know I love a good fairy tale and this book has all the right yummy ingredients; magic, enchantment, star-crossed lovers and fantastical settings. 

Paris is already a magical city, but in the hands of Dinsdale it spectacularly comes to life, especially at night when the city above and below become alive with the shimmering splendor of magic.

Like all good fairy tales there is also a strong moral thread running through the story about how the lack acceptance and understanding of different cultures fuels confrontation and only through acceptance of differences can we really prosper as a society.

If you loved The Toymakers from Robert Dinsdale then I’m sure you will love this book as well.
Four of five

Truly enchanting ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Out of five
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Paris by Starlight was going to be the difficult follow up book. Certainly the author gave it his best shot and it was certainly enjoyably. The describing was superb and the atmosphere you could touch it but it did feel a bit lacking in places for me. It felt it a bit disjointed with no momentum. Having said that I did read along for the ride. Imagine flowers blooming at night all over Paris. Bliss.
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Wow. I had hoped I would love this book and probably had my expectations set quite high, but I was still pleasantly surprised. 
As the title suggests, this book mainly takes place in Paris - but not Paris as we know it. Isabelle, at twenty-three, is travelling around the city in search of her father. She last saw him there seventeen years ago, and with no particular leads or hints as to his whereabouts, Isabelle is left roaming from bar to bar in hopes that someone remembers him. Like her, he's a talented harpist. Hence her list of bars and clubs; places he may have played.
In one of these establishments, Isabelle comes across a young girl, clearly starving and not speaking a word of French. Isabelle takes her for a meal and escorts her back home: an apartment full of women and girls, all equally un-fluent in French. This is where she meets Levon, the only French-speaking member of the household and brother to Arina, the young girl.
Over some time, Isabelle becomes trusted by the family, particularly Arina and her grandmother or Bebia, Maia. She begins teaching them French, and helps care for Maia when she falls ill. In turn, Isabelle learns to read Maia's Nocturne, a book full of stories from their 'old country'. Levon also speaks of his home, eventually explaining how they came to be forced from it. 
Maia clings to her Nocturne and the tales it contains. She believes that the People of her homeland should still be living by night as their ancestors did, back when there was magic in the world. She also frequents the night garden growing on the roof, despite her ill health. Nobody is quite sure how she has grown this garden of plants from their old country; Maia is adamant that it sprouted itself, though nobody believes her. Night flowers that glow in the starlight begin to flourish - a piece of magic restored.
Thus, Paris-by-Starlight is established. The second home of the People, populated by enchanting nightjars and flowers of all different colours. On Christmas - or the Night of Seven Stars, as in the Nocturne - a breathtaking spectacle enthrals the entire city. Everyone rejoices in the beauty of Paris-by-Starlight and all the magic it holds.
But, of course, not everyone is happy. People begin to complain about the People; foreigners taking over their city, their home. A resistance is formed - and things go downhill very fast.
Through all this, Isabelle continues her search for her father, and is shocked when she actually finds him. Levon and Arina's father, believed to be dead, suddenly appears. He is angered by the resistance and demands the People fight back. 
I've probably not done the story justice at all. The plot is really quite intricate and difficult to summarise. But believe me when I say it's emotional, magical, and heartbreaking in equal measure. There's romance, there's loss, and there's prejudice. Despite the fantastical nature of Paris-by-Starlight itself, I found this story to be extremely reflective of the world we know. The attitudes of the resistance, so prejudiced and angry, are sadly very real in our society. Dinsdale's narrative of this issue is just fantastic, in my opinion.
I realise this review is getting a bit rambly. Basically, I really loved this book. I absolutely adored the magic of Paris-by-Starlight, and was truly heartbroken by the negativity and prejudice of some of the characters. As for Isabelle and Levon - they had flaws, but I really liked them. Their relationship is far from perfect, and that's exactly why I liked it. Beneath all the magic, I think there's something in this book for everyone to take away.
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A DNF for me, which it pains me to write after I had so much love for The Toymakers,

I loved the gorgeous descriptions of the night but it is slow-moving & I don't feel like picking it up again at all.

So, I'm not going to... life is too short to force yourself to read books you aren't enjoying! I'm sure some people will love it but sadly I'm not one of them.

Disclaimer: A huge thanks to Random House UK, Cornerstone & NetGalley for sending me this title. All opinions are my own.
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I totally understand the excitement around this one, but it felt a little slow at times and I didn’t feel overly connected with the story or characters.
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Title - Paris By Starlight

Author - Robert Dinsdale

Genre - Fantasy

The first time I had heard of Robert Dinsdale was when I came across his book 'The Toymakers' which was hyped across a lot of forums. Unfortunately, I never came across to reading it due to various constraints and I still am looking forward to reading it someday. When the opportunity to read 'Paris by Starlight', his latest work which had interesting reviews, I did grab the opportunity with both hands and this is my take on it.

We are brought into the world of Isabelle, living in Paris to search for her father who had abandoned her as a child. As she looks around various pubs, she one day comes across a little girl who could not speak French and helps her find her family. Thus she meets Levon, her uncle, who introduces Isabelle to his grandmother. They claim to be refugees from a land called 'Old Country' where people are known to live by night which is filled with magic. As Isabelle gets involved more in their life, she gets to learn things that one can just hope to imagine.

The book just did not work for me for various reasons. The very first chapter was written so well that one did not take much time to get involved in the plot but the story just spiralled down after it. With confusing jumps in timeline to much more complicated narration, there were a lot of things that would ultimately ask you to shut the book and move onto another one. The concept was something new and I would say full marks for the same but unfortunately the author just could not grab the reader's attention and maybe the author's words just got lost while translating the same into the paper.

My Ratings - 🌟🌟 (2 out of 5 stars)
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Levon and his family have escaped terror in his homeland and walked across Europe facing many hardships and cruelties along the way. Not everyone made it and he hasn't seen his father since the fateful night when they left. 

However, now they have arrived in the safety of Paris and Levon has even managed to find a steady job, one that allows him to live as he was brought up...to live by night.

His grandmother reads to the children from his peoples nocturne which contains stories of their old life. It describes the flowers which shone and bloomed at night, its luminous nectar feeding the nightjar birds, the glowing pollen which coated the bees and the luminous fish in the landlocked sea...then one night the magic of their old life reappears in Paris itself.

Soon the original Parisians notice these flowers and the unusual birds and creatures which appear by night. Some are enchanted by these changes, like Isabelle 'the Rose of the Evening' a Parisiene who plays songs of the old country...others not so and a resistance to this Paris by Starlight begins.

I loved the initial concept of living by night in a magical land with glowing flowers and the nocturne book. The second half of the book changed in tone centering more on the Parisians resistance to these newcomers who were taking over their city at night.
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Having read and absolutely loved The Toymakers I was very much looking forward to another dose of magical escapism from Robert Dinsdale.

The story is about a family of refugees who have fled their war torn country and headed to Paris to make a new life for themselves, followed by many more of their people. They sleep by day and live by night. They bring with them their magical book of their own folklore stories they call the Nocturne. The stories and the presence of the people trigger the appearance of magical flowers and birds which light up Paris at night. 

Isabelle has left her home and headed to Paris to find her father who left her and her mother years ago. She meets one of the refugees one night and goes back to her home and then becomes part of her family. She forms a relationship with Levon, the young man who is leader of the family who is also estranged from his father.

All is going well for The People until a group of Parisians decide they do not want these outsiders living in Paris and make it their business to set up a group to destroy their magic and run them out of the city. 

The descriptive writing is beautiful, taking you away to the magical transformation of   Paris at nighttime. I loved the story of the people and their magic but sadly it all went a bit downhill for me and became quite depressing and sad. He has done a good job of writing real life issues into the magical escapism but it just wasn’t for me.
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This is a very difficult book to write about because I loved aspects of it but was left cold by others. 

Firstly, and by far the most powerful element of this book, the imagery is beautiful. Paris-by-starlight is so wonderfully described I got lost in the visual element of this book and the world created. There really is magic at the heart of this tale. The Nocturne, the book of the People, was an absolute treasure too, I would have happily read much more of it. 

Individually the characters are good, Levon's grandmother was by far my favourite. In fact, I think the supporting cast far overshadowed our two leads. Isabelle and Levon were both a little weak in comparison. 

The timeline for the story is largely ignored, with time passing unremarked & I found myself wondering how long had passed in the early part of the book. The first half of the book was beautiful, but slow, building to a second half driving to it's climax & ending very quickly. 

At the heart of this tale is the lesson that we are all the same, no matter where we're from or what we believe. 

For me this was a story of beautiful imagery but it lacked bite.
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I absolutely adored this book. I loved the Paris setting, and it came across as authentic and realistic. The themes of love, magic, and hope were explored quite well, and made me reflect on those things in my own life. It's very thought provoking with relatable characters and an excellent plot. I highly recommend!
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I loved the Toymaker and loved this lyrical, fascinating and well written story.
Excellent storytelling and world building, a great cast of characters.
A gripping and highly entertaining story, strongly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I love Dinsdale's work, and Paris By Starlight didn't disappoint. He has an amazing imagination and the scope of this story, the setting, and the people in this book is so rich that sometimes it is exhausting to read, but in the same way as eating an incredibly rich dessert is too - satisfying.
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Paris by Starlight is beautifully written and features two main protagonists that captured my attention from the beginning. 

Isabelle has found her way to Paris in search of her father and has been playing all the clubs in the hopes that someone remembers or knows him. It is after a failed attempt at playing one night that she is entrusted with returning a small child to her home and this is where she meets Levon and his family from the other country. 

The magic in the story comes from the Old country and the flowers that bloom at night and give off a strange light. In the old country people lived during the night. 

This enchanting story is filled with magic and love as the stories from the Nocturne are retold and the old country begins to materialise in Paris and others from the old country begin to live by night as well. 

There are a number of themes running through the story including survival, hatred, anger, and love. The story is about connection and home, about love and identity, and is told in a wonderful way that will have the reader living each moment as the pages turn.
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Having read and loved The Toy Makers earlier this year, I was so excited to read Robert Dinsdale's next magical realism book, Paris By Starlight! While I really enjoyed it, I found it to be not quite as enchanting as his previous book.

Paris By Starlight follows the lives of Isabelle, a young musician who has come back to Paris to find the father she hasn't seen for 18 years, and Levon, a young man who has travelled over 3,000 miles with his family to Paris after his home country was invaded. Their lives become intertwined when Isabelle helps a lost Arina, Levon's youger sister, find her way back home. They are the People, regugees from the old country - a country so small it had no name - where their ancestors lived by night in a world of enchantment. As Maia, Levon's grandmother, reads the family the fairy tales of the old country from her book The Nocturne, and encourages them all to live by night, something wonderful happens. The old country starts materialising in Paris; the flowers-by-night, flowers that bloom only when it's dark and give off their own luminescense. When the People of the old country in Paris hear of what they're doing, they start doing the same, and the flowers of the old country spread. When the People in other countries hear that the old country is coming back in Paris, they flock there, too, and soon Paris-by-Starlight is such a sight to behold, almost unrecognisable. Some Parisians are enchanted and awed and moved by their city's transformation, and the wonders brought here by the People, but there are others who are resentful of the People moving to their home, bringing their "black magic", and taking their women. It's not long before resentment turns to hate, and the People they discover the one place where they thought they could be themselves is a place rife with fear.

Paris By Starlight is a story of difference, and how people react to that difference. It's a story of probably every country that has resented people in need, whose homes have been destroyed, seeking refuge and safety. This story is set in Paris, but it could easily be set anywhere. It could be set where you live. While the story is at times beautiful, it's also horrifying, and holds up a mirror to our prejudices, and the discrimination against people who simply want to live and survive. Where do you go when your home has been taken from you and to stay is to be killed, but nowhere else wants you? More than once I exclaimed out loud is terror and disgust at what the hate and anger leads to; the violence, the destruction, the death. And the sorrow of understanding a people wanting just to be allowed to live deciding to stand their ground and fight back, and become dangerous and hate-filled people in return. It's a vicious circle, when it that was needed was warmth, kindness, acceptance, compassion, and welcome. It's a heartbreaking story of tragedy after tragedy, but there is also wonder after wonder.

However the magic, as beautiful and awe-inspiring as it was at first lost some of it's shine for me. Luminescent flowers appear all over Paris, and soon animals of the old country too. The geography of the land changes, even, and there are spectacular sights to see on The Night of the Seven Stars. For the People, it's an important reminder of home, it gives them a place to belong, a connection to their ancestry and a country that no longer resists. It's a link to their culture, their traditions, and their history. It's undoubtedly hugely important. But as an aspect of a fictional magic realism story, I ended up feeling a little underwhelmed. It doesn't really do much. It just is, it just exists. It's there, and that's it. It's importance is in what it means, but not in what it is. It's super pretty, but that's it. I just wish there was more to this unexplainable magic.

But this is much more a human story than a magical one, and so I can understand why there wasn't more to it. It's about the People. It's about their relationships with each other and their home. And it's about Levon, Isabelle, Arina, and all the other characters and how they are effected by the changes, by the distance it breeds. It's a story of love, identity, belonging, home, and a story of difference, hate, and violence. It's an incredibly important story, and one I would implore everyone to read. It truly is a wonderful, beautiful, heartbreaking, and tragic story. And while I was a little disppointed, I still loved it, and will continue to read Dinsdales gorgeous stories.

Thank you to Del Rey for the eProof.
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