Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, a review

Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Tales of Goldstone Wood #4
Published 2012 by Bethany House, 348 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, suitable for middle grade and up

Starflower is a mortal woman who flees a life of abuse and loses her way in a faerie wood, tortured by dreams of what she left behind. She had sought to save her sister’s life. Now that Starflower has escaped, is her sister dead?

An immortal faerie man who is also a cat (in a world where the immortals shape-change readily) sets out on a quest to rescue his lady fair from the clutches of a dragon witch, bumbling into dangers he little can understand. But since he’s a poet, he expects to make beautiful songs about the quest. And does he love his lady fair? Well, he certainly thinks he does.

Soon their paths cross. The cat-man doesn’t want to help Starflower, who is after all a mere mortal, but for some reason he it anyway. Both the cat-man and Starflower soon find themselves called to the path drawn for them by a golden hound. This is a mysterious being who speaks to their hearts and calls them out of themselves as they each must deal with terrible evil.

How will each respond?

What do I think?

This book has a lot of great things going for it. The characters are unique and well drawn, and the story line is unforgettable, with characters faced with heartstopping dilemmas. One of the best things is the Hound of Heaven, whose guidance and presence ring true. The heroine is dark-skinned, a welcome change from most heroines in Christian fiction. Setting, dialogue, and description work well together to create a wonderful story. This story has two memorable faerie villains, a double helping.

However, I had some trouble getting into the book, and I think it’s for these reasons:

  1. The lengthy prologue was from the point of view of a villain, whom I couldn’t identify with. The prologue was full of many details about this story world that I didn’t latch onto.
  2. The two protagonists are in an emotionally broken state to begin with, making it hard for the reader to identify with them. This is a common story problem, as any author must move the protagonist through a character arc. But it’s usual to create some kind of an early bonding moment for the reader, often known as the “pet the dog moment.” There such a moment for the minor protagonist (cat-man), but not for the main protagonist, Starflower.
  3. As we get to know Starflower, we readers are kept from knowing anything about her past for a very long time. In fact, she is asleep for a lot of the first part of the story.

So, my counsel for you readers is to pick up this book and stick with it a while until it grows on you. It will bless you mightily.

This is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. Check out what others are saying about this book during the next three days:

Gillian Adams
Beckie Burnham
Nikole Hahn
Bruce Hennigan
Janeen Ippolito
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Anna Mittower
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Dona Watson
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

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6 thoughts on “Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, a review

  1. Editor Post author

    No, I haven’t read them. I am guessing I would like them though! I suppose the books, which occur much later in time, talk about Eanrin and Starflower in legend and song. Interesting thought.

  2. Meredith Burton

    I have read the first two books in this series, and they are beautiful. So looking forward to reading Starflower. It should be available in Braille in January. Thank you for this excellent review.

  3. Editor Post author

    So glad to hear from you, Meredith. I’m so glad they’ll transfer it to Braille. You’ll love it.

  4. Meredith Burton

    Hello, Mrs. Wheeler.

    It’s nice to hear from you as well. The whole series is being transcribed into Braille by Verbatim Braille Transcription Services out of Arnold, Maryland. I’m so thankful for that because there are so few Christian fantasy/science fiction books that I can read. I’d commissioned the lady who founded the service to braille the first book for me, and she loved the book so much she obtained permission to make the whole series available in an accessible format. Just proves that Mrs. Stengl’s writing has the capability of touching lots of people. Hope more individuals are drawn to her books.

    Also, for those who might be interested, Mrs. Stengl is working toward having her books made into audio formats as well. God bless and Merry Christmas.

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