Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?
But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself falling for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.
Publication Date: February 4th, 2020
My Favourite Quote: *subject to change*
I had a habit of finding him, like a compass aligning itself. He was my true north.
Received an Advanced Reader’s Copy from the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Starting The Stars We Steal, I was sure I was going to walk straight into an angst filled love story with a dash of sci-fi, mystery and lies. I was both right and wrong. There was a lot more to TSWS than just an angsty love story. The story does revolve around the relationship between the two protagonists (and the consequence of it), however, that was not all.
A large aspect I had to keep in mind while reading, was that Leo was only nineteen years old. Added to that, she was thrust into the role of being responsible for the future of her family–more than once–very early in her life. She had to make choices that, rightfully, she shouldn’t have made for those reasons–including now how she’s pushed to find a husband to save her family from losing all they have. There were many mixed shades to Leo that seemed to stem from uneven growth in her personality because of circumstance. There were younger sides of her that hadn’t been allowed to flourish because she had to take some very adult decisions earlier on and is still doing so. Which means, just like an teenager, she can be a hypocrite without realising it; judgemental too sometimes, but that didn’t take away all her efforts in doing the best she can and trying to take care of her family–oftentimes at the cost of herself.
Elliot is definitely a character that grows on you, with the strange past he and Leo share and of course the secrets that you wonder if he’s keeping or not. Because if he is, then what is he hiding? If he’s not … why’s he here? What does he want? But I have to say, I did like how he quickly understands Leo, learns from his misconceptions and takes steps forward to change his behaviour. At the same time, he does also remain true to who he has been described to be. The secondary characters were rather interesting and their personalities were developed, except for one character who I could never get a proper feel of: Klara. But it’s possible that was the intention, given her relationship with her mother and her own prickly, hot-and-cold personality. I would actually love to hear a bit more about her. A personal favourite is Daniel, bless the boy, I’m crushing on him.
All this aside, the plot itself has a lot of relevance to our own lives, be it the larger plot that was afoot and the more minute intricacies that are addressed–like struggle for parental approval, marriage and it’s pressures, effort to succeed and of course … class and how it predetermines your position in the world. I was very surprised by the last fifteen percent of the story because I hadn’t predicted anything that would happen there. I was also surprised that it was concluded without feeling rushed despite the short span of space remaining in the book. However, I do feel that there is a high possibility for the book to become a series, though with the same characters or not is yet to be seen.
I do have to comment on the humour! There’s humour at surprising spots in the story that’s really refreshing and has you grinning in the midst of a really serious moment. I would love to see Alexa write a rom-com. ❤
I would recommend The Stars We Steal if you’re into some romance, mild angst, mystery, challenges of young adults in very adult situations and some real world problems. Four stars!