I’ve been wanting to read Chloe C. Peñaranda’s books for a while now, but was waiting for the entire An Heir Comes to Rise series to be published before I started as I just know I’m going to consume those books once I start them and I can’t take too many cliffhangers at once especially with the amount of books I read. I need closure. So, when I saw that they were releasing The Stars Are Dying, I wanted to read it in the worst way especially since it’s loosely inspired by Greek mythology, specifically the myths of Astraea, who is the virgin-goddess of justice. And I love a good Greek mythology inspired book. And I was lucky enough to get an advance reader copy of the book, but like any book I receive as an ARC my thoughts are my own in my reviews.
I had pre-ordered a hardcover copy of this book before I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book, which I still can’t wait to get my hands as it looks gorgeous from the sneak previews the author has shared on their Instagram. I mean look at it, the inside cover has stunning artwork and there’s character portraits included which I love as they help me visualize characters (even though I never visualize characters or places while I’m reading). Seriously, I wish all books came with art of the characters.
“The brightest star needs the darkest night.”
In a world abandoned by the celestial guardians and left to suffer a tyrant king’s reign, all Astraea knows is safety in seclusion. With fragmented memories of only five years of her life, she’s determined to discover more about her past, even if that means fleeing the cruel arms that hold her safe from the wicked vampires rumored to roam the land.
But when Astraea stumbles upon the mysterious Nyte, she soon realizes determination alone isn’t enough to guard her heart. He lingers like the darkness that expands between the stars, and soon she discovers her captor’s wicked means of control weren’t based on a lie to keep her under locks after all. In her desperation, Astraea accepts Nyte’s help before she can decide if she might have sold her allegiance to one of the bloodthirsty beings the people of her world fear.
Once their bargain is struck, Astraea’s chance to escape comes in the form of accompanying her best friend Cassia to the King’s Central. There on royal territory it’s the centenary of the Libertatem, a succession of trials hosted by the king in which five human lands compete for a cycle of safety from the vampires seeking blood, claiming souls, and savaging after dark. So when tragedy strikes, Astraea must decide if taking the place of a murdered participant for the safety of her kingdom is a ruse is worth dying for, or if protection—and the answers to her past—really are her strongest desires.
- Published: July 11, 2023
- Page Count: 514 pages
- Genre: Romantic Fantasy
Review of The Stars are Dying
I was hooked by this book right away. As there’s a lot of mystery surrounding the characters. I’ll try not to give too many spoilers beyond what happens in the beginning of the book, since that’s more or less what comes in the book description. Anything beyond that I’ll keep out of my review, so if you want to check out this book for yourself then the experience is not ruined for you.
We first start out with a prologue that hints that one of the characters will be returning soon, and that another has been awaiting their arrival but the world is cracking so they made some kind of deal with the King. My immediate guess was the prologue was from Nyte’s POV and he was waiting for Astraea to return, but there’s not a lot to base that on. It was just my guess based on the book description paired with the prologue. The rest of the book is told from Astraea’s POV.
She doesn’t have any memories expect for the last five years when she was rescued by Hektor, who immediately gave me Midas vibes from The Plated Prisoner series by Raven Kennedy or Arobynn from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. He’s extremely controlling and hides his cruelty by making the FMC think it’s love, so she doesn’t leave. He also has been giving her pills every week stating that she has a blood disease, which I didn’t immediately believe to be true. Again, I immediately thought she was a celestial or something else based on her markings, but she’s unaware of it due to her limited knowledge. But the fact that Nyte has similar markings makes me think that’s the case as we know he has abilities similar to that of the vampires. Though I don’t think he’s a vampire per say. But we’re introduced to the fact that she has some abilities (summon her dagger wherever) and that’s she believes Nyte is physically helping her in moments even when he’s nowhere nearby. Granted, he does have the ability to appear whenever she’s in need and can communicate with her mentally. But I didn’t think it was him doing them for one second, only that Astraea wishes he was.
Early on we’re introduced to Astraea’s only friend, Cassia, who is going to be competing in a tournament held every one hundred years, which determines which of the kingdoms will be spared being hunted by vampires. Cassia has trained Astraea in various weapons over the last three years, and helped rescue Astraea when Hektor locked her away for leaving his estate. I knew one of the participants in the tournament was going to die on the way to the central kingdom from the book description, but I wasn’t expecting it to be Cassia. With her friend’s murder, Astraea decides to take her place so their kingdom, Alisus, will have a chance at protection against the vampires if she can manage to survive. Since if Cassia’s death comes out before Astraea officially takes her place then Alisus will be doomed to the vampires for another one hundred years.
I do find the vampire concept interesting as there are three different types:
- Soulless: vampires that feed on the souls of others if they have the person’s true name, but cast no reflections. Feeding on souls results in days, months, or years being taken from the person.
- Shadowless: vampires that feed on blood, but have no shadows. Those who have drank from become the subject of that vampire’s obsession.
- Nightcrawlers: winged vampires who can feed on both, but cannot come in the sun.
When we finally learn Nyte’s name he mentions its not his full name, only part of it. So, the big twist at the ending wasn’t a surprise at all to me. It was spelled out from the beginning. And we knew he did things for the king based on the prologue, things he’s not proud of that make him a villain. So, the second a longer form of his name appeared I knew immediately it was Nyte, even though Astraea assumes it’s someone else based on another individual’s assessment. Not to mention, Nyte is locked up in the basement of the royal library that only the royals can open the door to.
Once the trials start, Astraea is tasks with finding 5 key parts. One representing a sin (lust, envy, pride, greed, and wrath) and then she has to acquire the other four keys from the other participants in order to win. However, there is a sixth key that belongs to the star-maiden. That’s the true key that needs to be found as it would free Nyte from his prison.
So, we spend the rest of the book following Astraea trying to decide if she should trust Nyte enough to bond him and set him free, or leave whatever connection they have behind. But considering they knew each other in her previous time, the draw is too much for each of them. Though Nyte is determined to return to his own realm so the stars of Astraea’s stop dying. Even though he doesn’t want to part with Astraea as he loves her in every life.
I’m curious to see where the next book takes this series. Clearly there’s still a lot of mystery between the two characters and more about their past we don’t know about. Not to mention they are still bond together, but with differing goals. Nyte wants to leave and will continue to be the villain he was born to be. Astraea doesn’t know who’s side she’s on but she also doesn’t want to part from Nyte. Which isn’t a surprise since she came back for him. I really hope they figure out a way to be together without destroying either of their worlds. Not to mention, there’s a massive twist at the end and I’m not sure if Nyte was playing a role or not. And Drystand alluded to their being another individual we need to watch out for.
Overall, I give The Stars Are Dying a 3.75 stars out of 5-star rating. There was a lot of predictable elements to the story and I probably would’ve cut off the ending to the book sooner as it felt like the big ending already happened and then it just continues before giving another shocking piece about of information. It made the second twist lesser in my opinion. I still really enjoyed the book and want to know what comes next. But due to that predictability I wouldn’t give it a higher rating as I saw almost all the twists coming. There wasn’t anything that really shocked me.
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