Spinning Starlight is a retelling of The Wild Swans a fairy tale about a king who has 11 sons and 1 daughter, Princess Elisa. He remarries to a wicked queen who turns out to be a witch that casts a spell on her 11 stepsons turning them into swans and banishes Elisa when she realizes that she can’t curse her. Elisa has to knit shirts for her 11 brothers in order to save them and also has to take a vow of silence in the process. Any word spoken will cause the death of her brothers.
When I first read the plot for this book what I got was sci-fi fairy tale retelling and of course, the first thing that came to mind was Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles. I was immediately interested! Although the story is a solid 3 stars, I was a bit let down because I went into it with such high expectations.
R.C. Lewis really hit the ground running from the first chapter. There was a lot of jargon thrown all at once and it sort of felt like I was reading book 2 in a series without having even skimmed book 1. It was easy enough to follow along with the gist of it. Our main character is Liddi Jantzen, a 16-year-old heiress, who is constantly in the spotlight and feels like she can’t live up to the expectations that her 8 older tech-savvy brothers have set forth. She is set to run the family business when she is old enough, but one night, chaos strikes and she gets thrown into a tailspin. What lost me was the explanation of the worlds, the portals, and how they worked. The best way I can explain it is it felt like being told “The chocolate tarp reads shoes for death.” and then the author would explain that meant “Liddi felt prepared.” Wait what?! Exactly! Lol So that was basically the first 3rd of the book for me. Too much was happening so my brain was trying to simultaneously process the world it was being thrown into AND the actual story itself. I stayed with it and luckily towards the second 3rd the book really slowed down. Although this might be the part that will bore some to death, this is when all the jargon finally started to make some sense.
The real challenge for R.C. Lewis here is that our main character doesn’t speak for about 90% of the book! Our villain has set it up so that a single word spoken by Liddi will cause the death of her brothers. The author did a great job at taking us through Liddi’s thought process and emotions without her actually speaking. My only issue with this was that it was expected for us to know why Liddi couldn’t just take out good ole pen and paper to say what she needed to say. It isn’t until page 62 that we get an explanation and by then I had just come to the conclusion that it was just not an option for no other reason other than it just wasn’t an option. *insert shrug* Once the author actually explained why pen and paper weren’t an option then it made sense and that’s when I really began to enjoy seeing Liddi learn how to communicate with other characters without being able to speak. I fell in love with her sarcasm filled mental media-casts which were Liddi’s assumptions of what headlines would read if the media saw her doing what she was in that moment.
Another thing I really liked was the Daglin holiday celebrated in Ferinne! It is basically a day when everyone stops whatever they are doing and spends it cleaning up the town! If only that was an actual thing! Think about how much cleaner our planet would be.
Something I wish we would’ve got more of was the Jantzen brothers in the present. After each chapter, we’d get a little blast from the past with a backstory to the Jantzen family. This is really the only time the reader gets an insight into the brothers that Liddi is trying so hard to rescue. Knowing so little about them made me want them to be rescued but only for Liddi’s sake, not because I felt invested in any of their characters.
Although I was confused with the tech talk for quite a while, I still enjoyed this book for the most part. I also plan on checking out Stitching Snow, R.C. Lewis’ other retelling book which is based on Snow White!
Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis
Published by Disney Hyperion
Pub Date: October 6th 2015
Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.
Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.
Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?
Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.