Book Review: The House of Sorrowing Stars by Beth Cartwright

Sometimes you come across a book that sounds like it shouldn’t be your sort of thing, but you’re immediately intrigued about it. I hadn’t heard about The House of Sorrowing Stars until I saw about the blog tour on Twitter. I read the summary and was like, I need to read this book. I requested it and was very lucky to get a physical proof from Del Rey. There was still a slight fear that I wouldn’t like this book. That the language would be too flowery for me, and I’d struggle with it. But this book was the opposite. It was so easy to read, so enjoyable, and a book I’d recommend to all whether you are a big literary reader, a big fantasy reader or neither.

Described as a literary fable, The House of Sorrowing Stars follows a young woman called Liddy who is invited to this mysterious house. There she meets the beautiful but unsettling Vivienne, kindly gardener Ben and the mysterious Raphaelle. Liddy doesn’t know why she was truly invited, but to find out, she’ll have to discover the secrets hidden within the house.

Many people say that The House on the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune is like a middle grade for adults. But The House of Sorrowing Stars is an adult version of the middle grade and younger teen books I read as a kid. The slightly simplistic writing with some gorgeous and yet dark descriptions felt like Dianna Wynne Jones, Eva Ibbotson and Sharon Creech for me. I haven’t read a book like this in many years, and I enjoyed it so much. I don’t know what I expected from this book, but it was not this. It was a wonderful mix of fairytale and adult literary fiction, and it was perfection. I will say that it is not very action-packed. There were one or two scenes where a ghost actually did something, but overall it was very introspective. You spend a lot of time in Liddy’s head, without it being in first person, with a few scenes from an interesting character’s thoughts.

As I said, this book was easy to read. The writing was not flowery, and yet it still had this whimsical and fascinating atmosphere. This is a tale that deals with grief, and there are some incredibly sad and hard to read scenes. But even throughout those, I couldn’t stop turning the page. The emotional tales are often books inside the book, and that is something I know draws a lot of readers in. Not me generally, but I found that it really worked in this story.

The book wasn’t perfect. It did feel a little insta-lovey on the romance side, especially when you consider the reason Liddy was invited to the house. That doesn’t mean there weren’t struggles before there was a happy ending, but I generally prefer more of a build-up. I like to see the romance blooming, and instead, it felt like it was there, brewing in the background all along. That said, it didn’t stop me from loving the book. I did enjoy all the characters and all the interactions. I teared up a few times and smiled at others. If I liked marzipan, then I’d have probably been craving it reading this book.

I think I can honestly say that this is going to wind up being one of my favourite books of the year. And if I don’t see this on other people’s favourite lists too, I’m going to be disappointed.

5/5 Stars

Title: The House of Sorrowing Stars

Author: Beth Cartwright

Genre: Literary Fantasy

Age Range: Adult

Publisher: Del Rey

Release Date: 10/2/22


Amazon UK  | Waterstones | Bookshop Org

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