Book Review: “Stardust in Their Veins” by Laura Sebastian

Stardust in Their Veins is Laura Sebastian‘s stunning sequel to Castles in Their Bones, and it is more than worth the wait. After the first book’s shocking ending, Sebastian owed readers everywhere not only an explanation but a story that would explain that. With an explosive cliffhanger that needed resolving, the second book in this series has much to live up to. Thankfully, Sebastian proves more than equal to this task. 

Right from the beginning, Sophronia’s presence is felt everywhere. Beatriz and Daphne processing their grief over the loss of their sister, feel frankly all too real. Throughout the story, it’s difficult to give up the hope that Sophronia will magically re-appear. However, as in real loss, this character is gone forever and leaves a massive gap. While this may be a fantasy world, the experience of grief portrayed throughout this story is incredibly grounded. 

Violie makes a very interesting POV character. Initially, there was a sense that she was simply replacing Sophronia as a character through which readers could follow the political intrigue of this fantasy landscape. Instead, as the story moves forward, Violie develops her own voice. Her perspective is a necessary one amidst the backstabbing and secrecy of this fantasy realm. She, like other POV characters, is wildly imperfect, which makes her that much more exciting to follow. 

Beatriz and her lessons with Nigellus could have been incredibly tedious in lesser hands. Specifically, this storyline could have resembled Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by simply reading off the plot with no further context. Instead, these sessions are an opportunity for Beatriz to grow and come into her own power. Rather than simply being a vessel for her mother’s schemes, she can now unlock true star power for herself. There’s no telling what she can do next. 

Stardust in Their Veins also features Daphne being allowed to tap into her dark side. This feels appropriate after everything she’s been through. Specifically, the fact that she even contemplates assassinating Gideon and Reid, the young princes, feels very Richard III of her. Daphne is a character who has more than earned a redemption arc. By allowing readers inside her head, she’s relatable even when she isn’t entirely agreeable.

The Empress still makes such a compelling villain. Though she may have literal star power backing her up, she is an incredibly grounded and realistic villain. This character also illustrates why this series would appeal to young adults. Anyone who has ever had a toxic mother specifically is sure to relate to her dismissiveness and cruelty towards her daughters. Those of us happy enough to have never faced this dynamic can more easily appreciate what a painful experience this is through these characters and stories. 

Stardust in Their Veins is a picture-perfect follow-up to the first book in this series. Additionally, this book stands on its own as it continues to develop this fantasy world. With its own cliffhanger ending, this story demands a follow-up immediately. Clearly, there is still evil to be fought and justice to be found. 

Stardust in Their Veins is available now.

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