Review: A Starlet’s Secret to a Sensational Afterlife by Kendall Kulper

A Starlet's Secret to a Sensational Afterlife by Kendall Kulpepper cover shows a woman in a dress facing forward, her gaze looking sideways. A theater entrance fills the background and a man in a suit stands by the entrance.

A Starlet’s Secret to a Sensational Afterlife
Kendall Kulper
Holiday House
Published May 23, 2023

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About A Starlet’s Secret to a Sensational Afterlife

A budding starlet and her handsome-but-moody co-star go from bitter enemies to reluctant partners when they get tangled up in the disappearance of a beautiful young actress in 1930s Hollywood.

Eighteen-year-old Henrietta arrives in Los Angeles in 1934 with dreams of trading her boring life for stardom.

She’s determined to make it as an actress, despite her family’s doubts and rumors of would-be starlets gone missing. And by the skin of her teeth, she pulls it off! A serendipitous job offer arrives and Henrietta finds herself on a whirlwind publicity tour for a major film role—with a vexingly unpleasant actor tapped by the studio to be her fake boyfriend.

But fierce Henrietta has more in common with brooding Declan than she realizes. They both have gifts that they are hiding, for fear of being labeled strange: he is immune to injury and she can speak to ghosts. Together, they might be the only people in Hollywood who can do something about these poor missing girls. And in doing so . . . they might just fall in love for real.

This whip smart, seductive caper by the author of MURDER FOR THE MODERN GIRL has the perfect combination of romance, vengeance, and a hint of the supernatural, set in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Hand to fans of THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS and MY LADY JANE.

A Starlet's Secret to a Sensational Afterlife on Goodreads

My Review

I loved the 1930s Hollywood setting of this book. It was so much fun to read something set in that time period that really captured the excitement of the time period. One scene in particular, when Henny first comes to Hollywood had me thinking of a moment in the moving SINGING IN THE RAIN, when the main character tells an edited version of his arrival in “sunny California”.

I loved both Declan and Henny’s characters. Her sarcasm and quick wit were so perfect. She was independent and smart, and hard-working. I loved all of that. And Declan– his unbreakable exterior and tender heart were absolutely the best. There was a line early on after he meets Henny where he says something about being the unbreakable boy and realizing this girl could totally break him. I loved it.

This book definitely captured the magic of the early film industry while delivering a powerful Me Too message in which women who were victimized seek the chance to create their own justice. If you’re looking for an upbeat historical mystery/romance, grab this one.

A Starlet's Secret to a Sensational Afterlife on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Both Henny and Declan are white. Declan’s best friend is Latine. Minor characters are queer.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used pretty infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. Henny witnesses an attempted sexual assault and interrupts, helping the girl escape the man attacking her. A man expects Henny to make out with or sleep with him, but she refuses. He doesn’t accept her refusal, but she’s able to escape.

Spiritual Content
Henny sees the ghosts of women who were murdered in Hollywood.

Violent Content
Declan works as a stunt man, taking on several stunt performances which should have left him grievously injured or dead.

Henny sees ghosts of women who were murdered, sometimes with evidence of what happened to them on their bodies (blood, water, etc.). She learns bits and pieces of what happened to some of the women.

A man tries to run Henny and Declan off the road. Two men fall from a bridge.

Drug Content
A famed Hollywood actor shows up for rehearsal very drunk after rumors that production has been delayed several times due to his binge drinking. A man claims that some women died due to drug overdoses.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of A STARLET’S SECRET TO A SENSATIONAL AFTERLIFE in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

One Response to Review: A Starlet’s Secret to a Sensational Afterlife by Kendall Kulper

  1. I have this book on my TBR but haven’t seen a lot of people talking about it. Great to see it lives up to the premise!