Review of Starling House by Alix E. Harrow
Starling House is another wonderful, dark, twisty story from Alix E. Harrow, with imperfect characters, a noble, messy quest, layers of history, and a captivating end.
I can see them all now, truths and lies, all lying one atop the other...the Gravely brothers...Eden, which was a good little town and a terrible little town, filled with good and terrible people...Eleanor.
Opal is desperate for cash, and her petty theft at her minimum-wage jobs isn't going to cut it. She's got to raise the money to send her bright younger brother Jacob to a private school where he can thrive--and have better prospects than Opal herself has had since the loss and disappearance of their single mother.
She's been cobbling together enough to get by, but when a mysterious draw to the spooky Starling House ends up in an overpaying job offer, she feels she can hardly say no.
Arthur, the young, haunted-seeming caretaker of the estate, seems resigned to her presence even as he advises her to stay far away from Starling House. He's caught up in solving some sort of puzzle related to the past. Which Opal promptly attempts to file under Not Her Problem.
Opal takes his envelopes of cash for her overpriced housekeeping, but she doesn't tell Arthur that she's been dreaming of the decrepit, rambling house for years, and that she has some eerie sense that she's finally home.
Harrow has crafted a rich, fully realized set of interconnected elements; families riddled with greed and betrayal, duty and disappointment, well-meaning and ineffectual passersby; and dreams of darkness, belonging, and taking up the mantle of an eerie, wonderful, terrible home and the predecessors who fought for it.
Starling House includes social commentary and judgments about privilege, corruption, and abuse at the hands of terrible, powerful men. The supporting characters are fantastically odd, fiercely loyal, and a heartwarming support for a girl who often feels without an anchor.
I adore Harrow's writing; her imperfect, faulted characters; the noble, messy quest; the hard-fought realizations and revenge. This was wonderful.
I received a prepublication edition of the audiobook of this title courtesy of NetGalley and Macmillan Audio.
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Alix E. Harrow is also the author of the wonderful The Once and Future Witches and The Ten Thousand Doors of January, as well as A Spindle Splintered, A Mirror Mended, The Autobiography of a Traitor and a Half-Savage, and Fractured Fables.