Cover Image: Starlings


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Member Reviews

This book is creepy in all the right ways.

The discovery of family secrets is often unsettling, especially when a parent goes to great lengths to attempt to keep them buried. But this book left me questioning what was free will, and what was the will of the spoiler alert. Look talking about this book is going to be hard.

From page one something is off about the town, the people and especially Kat's grandmother. Knowing that a secret is going to be revealed from the beginning had me questioning the motives of every person Kat interacted with. While there were definitely chapters that I wish went deeper, over all the book is a frightening read into the town that could have been any small town.

You're going to love this book if you enjoy magic hidden in plan sight, characters that make deals with the enemy to protect the ones they love, and strong female leads. While Kat is only in high school and still trying to find herself, she is written beautifully. With the fearless spirit of a young one that doesn't know the word submission.

I was a little sad at the ending, (spoiler)I would have rather the town not suffer, but I guess they did spend decades sacrificing one family so they could live in luxury, so maybe they did deserve to lose the town in the end. Mostly I was sad Kat left her family home and heritage. That would have been marvelous to inherit. Just not in a monstery town with haters.(end spoiler)

The YA characters are well written, without any of the yucky stereotype traits. The themes and use of roses and Starlings were well laid out as well. So much symbolism and deeper meanings.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book.
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Captivating and slightly creepy-I was kept on edge trying to figure out what exactly was going on. Kit Starling, dealing with the loss of her father, is finally meeting the paternal grandmother she had always thought was dead. She finds herself in a perfect, idyllic small town. But things aren’t as they seem and she finds that her family is at the center of it all. Kit is strong and determined, and her love for her mother propels her to be brave. The twists are predictable but this was still an enjoyable read that kept me engaged. Thank you NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the arc.
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Dark, creepy, mind-bending, and terrifying in all the best ways, this book will have you questioning everyone you meet and wondering if those quaint little town festivals are hiding something much more sinister. 

Kit and her mother head to see her father's mother after his death, hoping to find the answers that she's looking for Kit goes into the situation with an open mind and a somewhat open heart.

After meeting her grandmother Agatha she seems like a sweet person but from the beginning, you get the feeling that there's something more, something just not quite right, and when Kit finds herself in the middle of what seems like another tragedy in her life Agatha is there for her.

What happens next is just bizarre and horrific on so many levels and it kept me glued to the pages, finding out who she could trust, who was pure evil, and the lengths people would go to to preserve their lifestyles will have you second guessing every encounter you have, looking for seeds of secrecy and deceit even when there aren't any.

I have to say I loved this book, it was more than I was hoping it would be while giving me everything I needed and then some. 

Thank you to Random House Children's Books Delacorte Press and NetGalley for providing a copy of this E-Book, I have voluntarily read and reviewed it and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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** 3.5 stars 🌟 **

This was a new author for me, but with a beautiful cover that this - what can I say other than I was captivated and what to know what was within those pages.

It's a gothic read that has this ominous feel about it.  A young girl,  trying to deal with the death of her father; the mystery of his family that wasn't supposed to exist; and a dark history surrounding the town - so much potential right off the bat with this book.  There is that build up; but for may of you, you may see the twists and turns coming as I did.  

Is it an original read? There are definitely moments that allow it to hold its own. That Nancy Drew-like feeling that simmers in foreground gives this story something that otherwise it would lack.  But I found Kit to be very much a teenager. Whiny and very self-centered for most of the time in this book.  It gets to be too much sometimes.  

I will add for those that want well-rounded information about what their children read.  This book does have mystery overtones which can keep you on the edge,  but i wouldn't consider a thriller. 
The romance starts early on in the beginning with and going throughout both M/F and F/F. Kit has bisexual/pansexual scenes with two characters that really help pull her through this story. 

“She tastes like salt and sugar and darkness, and the promise of light just barely beneath it. I shouldn’t want to kiss her this much. But I do it anyway.”

Overall,  it's a good book but I felt it was somewhat predictable.

** Thank you to NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to review this advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion **
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A stunning little town hidden away amongst the roses, a secret legacy, and an unknown horror threaten to unravel everything Kit thought she knew about being a Starling. This book takes you on a journey to find the truth about the long history between the Starlings and the town of Rosemont. Unfortunately the story fell a little flat for me. I loved the premise and the atmosphere, but I wish everything was a little more fleshed out. I was left with more questions than answers and any answers given felt lazy. Even though I wish there was more substance to the story, it was a still an enjoyable fantasy horror!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book.
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The premise of Starlings captured my attention right away. From the jump there was an air of mystery and an other worldly quality that kept me wanting more. The first half was amazing, however I found myself confused thinking I was missing details during the second half of the book. At the same time it became predictable. For the target audience (young adult) I feel like it would be less predictable and more comforting which is a nice balance to the spooky nature of the book. Overall, a 3 star read for me.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Somewhere, I saw this book described as "Midsommar set in Stars Hollow", and obviously after that, I was ALL IN. I definitely see where the comparisons are coming from too. Cute little town meets horrifying ritual? Absolutely! I love cozy-seeming small towns with dark secrets, and this book does that very well. The atmosphere is very creepy (people smiling too widely will never not give me the chills), and the mystery is very captivating (some twists were easier to see coming than others, but I personally love being able to call where something is going. It makes me feel smart). This is definitely a great spooky season read, so I'm only bummed that I read it in June when it was too warm to fully, properly appreciate the atmosphere.
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After Kit Starling loses her father, she discovers he had been keeping an entire part of his life
-- and hers -- a secret. A grandmother she never knew existed invited Kit and her mother to visit Rosemont, the town where her father grew up, and soon she will discover that the Starlings have even more secrets than her father had been keeping.

What tropes, vibes, and themes does this book include?
Dark family secrets, a small-town with a secret, demonic grounds, deadly bargain. It gives me Midsommer vibes but a bit less intense and with a monster twist to it. Strong themes of letting go and not blaming yourself for things that aren't in your power, and also carving your own destiny. Metaphorically it (at least to me) is about older women -- grandmothers, mothers, older sisters -- grooming girls into playing their part in abusive/submissive relationships to protect others at the cost of their own lives (literally and symbolically). Also, LGBTQ+ representation (bisexual).

Who should read this?
People who enjoy a good small-town mystery with a heavy dose of magic, cults, and monsters.

What ages are appropriate?
Easily 16+ depending on the maturity of the child. I don't suggest it for anyone under 14, however.

Trigger warnings: Cursing, suggestive behavior, suicide, cannibalism, death of a parent, death of a minor, mild graphic content (blood, skeletons, mild gore), and physical violence against girls/women.

World Building:★★★★☆

Coming off an ARC I didn't enjoy, this felt like a breath of fresh air. It kept me engaged during the first half of the novel when it felt like more of a mystery, with the MC learning new information and secrets coming out and general eerie stuff about the town. There was a nice big twist in the middle that had breadcrumbs, but after that it sagged a bit until the climax. I would've liked a little more agency on the MCs part during the second half.
The writing style was just perfect for YA and beautifully done, very engaging. And the MC wasn't annoying at all (I know, it's a stereotype. But come on. We've all read our fair share of obnoxious YA leads). My only issue with her was this fatal attraction to so many different people; this boy is cute, that barista is flirting, this girl is so beautiful. Sometimes it just felt like she wasn't focused enough on the plot goal and too focused on making out with people. But I do believe she mentions that in the book and has decent explanation for why.
Overall, this was probably the best ARC I've read yet (my fifth one, I think?) and I do recommend reading it. I believe I'm going to buy it for my shelves and possibly annotation in the future.
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I really enjoyed this story - I felt that the writing style had a great flow and made it very easy to read and not put down! The storyline felt unique and the cover is enticing and beautiful! Great read and very thankful to @NetGalley and the publishers for this opportunity!
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I couldn’t put this book down.

Amanda Linsmeier wrote a book that is definitely reminiscent of “House of Hollow” meets “Small Favors” with this dark fairy tale fantasy horror novel.

The pacing, the plot, the unique story and the history of this creepy Rosemont kept me entranced the entire time. My only grievance was that the rest of the characters besides our main squeeze really didn’t feel interesting or fleshed out.

We have a Grandma who is suspect and a creepy demon dude.

This also gave me Slewfoot vibes, except I didn’t care for the demon daddy.

The end message is one I think all women can stand by. 

Bravo for this book. I will definitely be recommending it to people who like comparable books.

Thank you so much Netgalley and the Publishers for giving me an ARC in exchange for my honest review. This one was definitely a treat! I can’t wait for this author to do more.
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A big thanks to NetGalley and Random House for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

What did I just read?

Starlings by Amanda Linsmeier is a YA dark fantasy novel about how twisted a family's roots can be. Kit thought everything was right in her world as she had no real family, until her father dies and secrets are revealed. Kit is asked to join her grandmother and family in their old hometown of Rosemont, but nothing everything is at it seems. As Rosemont may be a bit too perfect. Especially how all the Starling women to be at the center of it all. Yet, as perfect as everything is, Kit can't help but wonder why her father kept it all from her. And why he left in the first place.

This book, is so hard to pin down with the details. It's a dark fantasy. It's a horror. It's so creepy and delicate in the details, it's amazing. It reminded me a lot of House of Hollow and Small Favors, and both of those still haunt me to this day. I guess this one will too.
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I was very excited to read this book. I love a good horror/fantasy book, but this one left me wanting a lot more. I found the plot to be too similar to other books along the same vein and the characters didn't really spark anything for me. The writing itself was fine, but the tone felt lackadaisical and I didn't get any sense of worry or menace coming with the plot points. The conflict felt like it dropped in and out and the climax of the story felt like it came too late. The romance felt like it was forced in to check a box and the ending was just to neat. I was left wanting more than what this book gave me.
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this was a really good! I liked the characters, and they were super well-developed. the plot was super cool and fun to read, and the writing was also smooth and easy to understand
highly recommend
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Real Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

This is author Amanda Linsmeier’s debut novel, a total mashup of genres ostensibly written for the YA set but also dealing with and handling some hefty subjects. I’d like to say it all hits, but it’s closer to about a 50% success rate. 

Starlings wants to be a book about monsters, small town values, traditions, and putting familial duty above all other things, but it honestly mainly came across as “Midsommar” meets Main Street USA. 

I’m really not kidding about “Midsommar”. I felt its influence all over this book. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because I loved that movie, but I do tend to think it might be a problem when it’s so evident the reader can’t stop being reminded of it. 

Linsmeier does have talent, because I did read the book and I won’t sit here and say it was a horrible read. I just think it wasn’t a consistent book and the climax bothered me more than I’d like to admit. 

I was provided a copy of this title by NetGalley and the author. All thoughts, opinions, views, and ideas expressed herein are mine and mine alone. Thank you. 

File Under: Cult Horror/Dark Fantasy/LGBTQ Fiction/Sapphic Romance/Standalone Fantasy/Supernatural Fantasy/YA Fantasy/YA Fiction/YA Horror
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing this eARC.

Starlings follows teen Kit and her mother in the wake of her father's death, as they return to the town where he grew up to visit his mother, whom he claimed was dead.

This was a fun, spooky read! It has a bit of a slow start as Kit gets acclimated to Rosemont, but the creep factor is definitely there the whole time. There were a few moments where I felt that the writing was trying to hard, being overly flowery, but in all I was absolutely riveted and I'll definitely be revisiting this read when spooky season hits.
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Creepy, haunting and mysterious.  This is a gothic horror reminiscence of Small Favors by Erin Craig or the House of Hallow by Krystal Sutherland. 

There exists an improbable town of Rosemont with beautiful roses that bloom year round - even in the depths of the Wisconsin winters. When Kit's dad passes away, she finds out that her dead grandmother isn't actually dead, she invites Kit and her mother to come and visit the town for Christmas. 

This story is about sacrifices and deciding what is worth living for.  It touches on grief, toxicity, being stuck, family dynamics, and history.

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it for those that like a little scary, but don't want to jump into the more traditional horror books that exist.

4 out of 5 stars. And 2 out of 5 for scare factor.

Thank you NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the free advanced reader copy. I am voluntarily leaving my honest opinion.
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I think I might just need to stop requesting ya books that I'm not sure of the author. The descriptions were so detailed I was almost bored. Like you don't need to describe literally everything. Like colors and what people are wearing ect. It makes it read like a school assignment. Still this was just not my Forte but could be someone who loves this genre.
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I really enjoyed the first half of this book. It had culty vibes and I was very invested in figuring out the mystery of the town. However, there were two kissing scenes and they both came out of nowhere. Too abrupt. The second "romance" especially just didn't feel realistic to me and quite forced. Also, I felt the ending where she defeats the villain of the story was rather lackluster. Be aware that this book takes place in the Winter in case you are a seasonal reader.
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I really enjoyed the vibes this story gave me. It's a weird town, all about their Eternal Roses that seem to be the lifeblood, and Kit is treated like some kind of royalty just because she bears the last name of Starling. 

Kit is just rolling with the small weird things that she notices in this town, I mean she's only going to be there a short time before she and her mother go back to their normal lives, but when something happens to her mother and no one including the grandmother she just met don't seem concerned, Kit knows she will do whatever it takes to figure out what is going on. 

I loved Kit, and while it did take a bit for the story to build and really take off, then it flew by. The story of Kit and the town of Rosemont sucked me in and wouldn't let me go until the last page.
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This is a YA gothic fantasy that delves into themes of family secrets, generational trauma, and the allure of a mysterious but unsettling small town. The story follows Kit, a teenager who discovers a hidden side of her family following her father's untimely death. With the revelation of a grandmother that she thought was dead and an invitation to her father's hometown, Rosemont, Kit embarks on a journey to discover why her father lied. The mystery that unravels the dark history of her family yields an ancient bargain she is destined to fulfill. 

The town in this is unsettling and Kit's interactions are eerie. Rosemont, with its eternal roses and a picturesque 1950s aesthetic, holds a haunting atmosphere that sets the stage for the untold secrets that lie within. The author weaves together elements of gothic fiction and infuses the entire town and surrounding forest with an ominous presence. One of the strengths of the story is its exploration of generational trauma. The Starling family, particularly the women, are at the heart of the town's mysterious history. Through Kit's perspective, we witness the weight of her family's legacy and the impact on her journey of self-discovery. I enjoyed the bisexual representation in the story.

While the storytelling is generally strong, there are moments where the prose feels slightly clumsy, particularly in the use of metaphors. However, this does not detract significantly from the overall reading experience. Although grief is not the primary focus of the story, the exploration of Kit's emotions regarding her father's passing adds emotional depth to her character.

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Children's Publishing for the eARC. This is an honest review.
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