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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Starling by Lesley Livingston

Norse mythology with a twist. A love story that will set about the destruction of the world, Ragnarok. Sounds interesing? Of course!

Title: Starling (Starling #1) by Lesley Livingston
Pages: 352
Release Date: August 28th 2012
Published by: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher (Thanks Sarah!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository
Buy locally: Fully Booked


Mason Starling is a champion fencer on the Gosforth Academy team, but she's never had to fight for her life. Not until the night a ferocious, otherworldly storm rips through Manhattan, trapping Mason and her teammates inside the school. Mason is besieged by nightmarish creatures more terrifying than the thunder and lightning as the raging tempest also brings a dangerous stranger into her life: a young man who remembers nothing but his name--the Fennrys Wolf. His arrival tears Mason's world apart, even as she feels an undeniable connection to him. Together, they seek to unravel the secrets of Fenn's identity as strange and supernatural forces gather around them. When they discover Mason's family--with its dark allegiance to ancient Norse gods--is at the heart of the mystery, Fennrys and Mason are suddenly faced with a terrifying future.

Set against the gritty, shadowed back-drop of New York City, this first novel in award-winning author Lesley Livingston's epic Starling Saga is an intoxicating blend of sweeping romance and pulse-pounding action.

I have never read a Lesley Livingston book, so coming into this novel, there was not really much that I expected. But imagine my surprise when the book opened to a calm scene that took a frightening turn in a blink and then zipped its way into a full blown action packed sequence with Storm Zombies and a (very) naked, not to mention sizzling hot, blond, sword wielding hero falling out of a tree? At that moment, I knew I was in for a treat. When you're dealing with a hero and a heroine who are both highly skilled swordsmen, you should be expecting a lot of action. And Starling has a lot of them.

Aside from the unique name, I admired Mason because despite all the obvious trappings of wealth surrounding her, she was striving for more for herself. Not as a Starling, but as someone who wants to pursue something she's passionate about, and that is to fence competitively. There was supposed to be nothing out of the ordinary about that, except when Fennrys crashed into her life. We have a strong character in Mason, though she's often plagued by that one tragedy she encountered as a girl, and then suddenly everything took a supernatural, mythological turn. It felt unreal at first. It took a while for things to sink in especially since it's hard to envision her as a part of a catastrophic event when she looked, walked and talked like a normal seventeen year old teenage girl.

Fennrys, on the other hand, felt otherworldly right from the start. He was giving the complete opposite vibe than Mason. It was like he was a mythological being suddenly dropped in a world he should not be in, which was the case. It was hard at first to think of his character as something that would work for the novel without making the story confusing, but the mystery surrounding his character was the key to make sense of the whole plot and his personality as well. He's deadly and powerful, and I like that he pushes Mason to become stronger than she is, and vice versa.

Though confusing at first, it was fascinating how Lesley Livingston was able to fuse the world of the Norse Gods to the present world and stitched them together to make a convincing setting for the story. By unraveling the Starlings’ complex and (very) dark life, the whole concept of Ragnarok and the possibility that various Gods and supernatural beings are present in such a modern time was what made the whole story interesting. The ties that bond Mason and Fennrys to each other was complicated, and even with the clues about what their supposed role is when the reckoning happens, there's still much to look forward to in this series. I like how Lesley Livingston's imagination twisted and reinvented the Norse Mythology and gave it a different spin in Starling. There's a whole world of intrigue surrounding the characters on the fringe, like Mason's family. I liked Roth, and I hated Rory with a passion. Rafe, that wonderful Egyptian God whose loyalty is still questionable. Heather, one of the rare characters who I disliked but liked as I got further into the story, with her wit and genuine concern for Mase. And the most intriguing person of all, Calum Aristarchos. I'd like to know more about this wonderful, seemingly bright character whose personality seem to be taking a darker shade as the story goes on.  

The intense romance between Fennrys and Mason had me taking a lot of deep breaths and giggling inside. A simple fencing lesson can turn so dangerous and yet so emotionally charged between the two of them. I've never seen two characters act so mature, sometimes I forget that they're supposed to be teenagers. My only issue with this book is how anticlimactic I felt during the end, and just when I was finally realizing what possible future Mason and Fennrys face, the story was, conveniently, cut off. It felt uncharacteristic for Fennrys to just wait and see what happens to Mason, a particular development that seemed forced. Wasn't he supposed to be the destroyer? I felt like he should have done more. Why does he seem so helpless? Also, though there was constant mention of Ragnarok, aside from the random attacks happening in New York, I felt that something more should happen to give impact to the fact that the world is really about to end.

Though the mere mention of Norse mythology might conjure images of Loki, Thor and Odin, Starling has something refreshing in store for the readers. It's a given that this book has fast paced, heart pounding action, and it has a rich background that will fascinate readers to like and take interest in Norse mythology just as they find Greek mythology interesting. There are riddles to solve, prophecies to decode, and a love story with possible catastrophic consequences were it to come true. It's a lovely start to a new series for Lesley Livingston!

Content (plot, story flow, character):
Aside from figuring out who's who in Norse mythology, this book is pretty good. I do think it's been cut off in the most unfortunate of times, I hope the 2nd book's opening is as explosive as this one!
Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
Mason is so gorgeous!


  1. Wow...yeah, that's definitely a recipe for action! Glad it followed through! The real world and mythology tie in reminds me of THE GODDESS TEST series a smidge. Might have to check it out a bit further. Thanks for sharing...and happy reading!

  2. Great review! Sounds like the main characters have great chemistry . Adding to my TBR pile

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

    1. Yay, thanks! Hope you enjoy it once you get around reading Starling! ^^

  3. great review! i lov mythology

  4. Hi Kai,

    Norse mythology and action packed? I want this book. Thanks for the review


  5. This book has been on my TBR list for quite sometime now. The synopsis is really interesting. Good thing you liked it! The beginning is always the crucial part to be able to catch the reader's attention. Excited for this! Thanks for the review!


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