Tag Archives: astronomer

Review: The Pale Queen by Ethan M. Aldridge

The Pale Queen by Ethan Aldridge

The Pale Queen
Ethan M. Aldridge
Quill Tree Press
Published June 25, 2024

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Pale Queen

From the acclaimed creator of Estranged and The Legend of Brightblade comes a lush fantasy graphic novel about an aspiring astronomer who attracts the attention of a mysterious being known as the Lady. Perfect for fans of Anya’s Ghost and Snapdragon!

Agatha has always dreamed of the stars. But when a chance encounter introduces her to the Lady of the Hills, Agatha is shocked to learn that a secret magical world lays hidden in the mist-shrouded land next to her village. She finds herself quickly captivated by the Lady, but is the Lady who she appears to be?

As Agatha forms a new friendship with a girl in town, she learns that the Lady is far older and more powerful than she could’ve guessed and that her plans aren’t as innocent as they appear. Will Agatha be able to protect the people she loves from the Lady’s sinister agenda?

My Review

This is another one of those books that I read at just the right time. (I’m not sure there could be a bad time to read a book by Ethan Aldridge, honestly.)

It’s been a hard week, so when I started this book, the first thing I appreciated was the soothing color palette. It’s got greens and yellows in softer tones. The woods have deep shadows, which makes them feel old and untouched, just like I’d imagine woods hiding magical creatures at the edge of a small town would be.

I loved Agatha’s character from the first page. She’s smart. Kind. Frustrated by the way her life has boxed her in, but still good to the people around her as much as she can be.

Heather, the girl who comes to stay with the family Agatha works for, also won me over. She constantly quotes authors and is pretty unapologetically nerdy, which is fabulous.

The Lady who makes a bargain with Agatha is also a fascinating character. I love the way her appearance changes depending on what’s happening and how Agatha reacts to her in certain scenes.

There were a couple of places where a chapter or scene ending felt a little abrupt, leaving me wanting a few more panels to really finish the scene. However, I’m now wondering if that was done on purpose to add to the eerie, slightly off-balance feeling the author created in those moments. Either way, it ultimately worked well.

Readers who’ve experienced Aldridge’s work before won’t need me to tell them this one is worth reading. It’s got the same powerful fantasy artwork and immersive storytelling that his fans have come to expect from his books.

Fans of K. O’Neill or Tim Probert will want to check this one out, for sure.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 10 to 14.

Some characters have brown skin. Two girls have romantic feelings for one another.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between two girls.

Spiritual Content
Some characters can perform magic. A special stone leads one character to another person through a bond.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. A boy doesn’t respect a girl’s boundaries. She wants him to leave her alone. He treats her roughly, making her cry.

Someone turns a person into a pig. Someone freezes a group of people.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use but help support this blog. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review: A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Earnshaw

A Wilderness of Stars
Shea Earnshaw
Simon & Schuster
Published November 29, 2022

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About A Wilderness of Stars

In this magical romance from the New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep, a mysterious illness cursing the land forces a teen girl astronomer to venture across the wilderness in search of the stars’ message that will, hopefully, save them all.

If magic lives anywhere, it’s in the stars…

Vega has lived in the valley her whole life—forbidden by her mother to leave the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the wilds beyond. But after her mother dies, Vega begins to see stars falling from the sky. It’s an omen she can no longer ignore, forcing her to leave the protective boundaries of the valley. But the outside world turns out to be much more terrifying than Vega could have imagined. People are gravely sick—they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose their lives.

What Vega keeps to herself is that she is the Last Astronomer—a title carried from generation to generation—and she is the only one who carries the knowledge of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to the cure. And so when locals spot the tattoo on Vega’s neck in the shape of a constellation—the mark of an astronomer—chaos erupts as the threats her mother warned her about become all too real.

Fearing for her life, Vega will be rescued by a girl named Cricket who will lead her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos. On the run from the men who are hunting her, Vega, Cricket, and Noah will set out across the plains in search of the cure the stars speak of. But as the lines between friend and prisoner begin to blur, Vega must decide whether she will protect the sacred knowledge of an astronomer. Or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.

My Review

I liked a lot of things about this book. The writing is really cool. It’s a little bit artistic, but not so flowery that the story doesn’t feel real, if that makes any sense. It has a post-apocalyptic feel that reminded me a little of THE BALLAD OF DINAH CALDWELL.

The characters sometimes tripped me up, though. At one point, two girls are running from a group of men who seem intent on severely harming them, and they keep passing a bottle of liquor back and forth between them and drinking it. I was confused because it didn’t seem like something that someone in fear of their life would do. Drinking is going to dehydrate you and slow you down, which both seem like bad things?? So I was confused.

There’s also a thing about Vega’s tattoos needing to be covered. She decides to leave her hair down and move carefully so that her hair doesn’t expose her tattoo. I kept thinking she should use a scarf or something more reliable. She believes her life is in danger, and she’s trusting her hair not to move? That seemed a little strange to me. If she explained that she couldn’t wear a scarf without calling more attention to herself or arousing suspicion, that would have made more sense. She’s in several dangerous situations where she depends only on her hair, so I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I will say that the way the story unfolds was really cool. There were things I looked forward to happening, and when they did, that was super satisfying. There were other things I did not predict that kind of blew my mind.

All in all, I would say I still enjoyed the book. I wish some of the little things were explained better or made more sense, but on the whole, I loved Vega, Noah, and Cricket so much. And I loved the directions the overall story went, too.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

I’m not sure of the representation in the story. Some of the character descriptions were a little bit confusing to me. At least one minor character is described as having copper skin and curly hair.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. In one scene, they undress in front of one another and kiss. It’s hinted that they have sex as well.

Spiritual Content
Vega tells some of the mythological stories behind the constellations in the sky.

A group of people believe that the last Astronomer can cure the plague that is killing people.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. A violent band of men terrorize people, executing anyone who doesn’t cooperate with them, charging money from all businesses for “protection.” Descriptions of battle and gun fatalities. A man interrogates someone, preparing to torture them.

Drug Content
Teen characters drink alcohol.

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 WILDERNESS OF STARS in exchange for my honest review.