A new imagining of Greek mythology, forbidden romance, and family betrayal abound in Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini, the first in a new series from this debut author:
Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.
As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.
Throughout Starcrossed, Angelini weaves a mythology that is complex and involved, though at times difficult to follow. But, Angelini gives her readers a helping hand by rooting it all in the familiar lore of Greek gods. She certainly breathes some sexiness into the epic battles first told in Homer’s The Illiad and The Odyssey. And really, it’s Angelini’s new twist on Greek mythology that offers Starcrossed its most original material. Unfortunately, much of the paranormal romance aspect of the book feels very familiar to plot points in many other books in the genre — though some readers may not mind.
At times, Angelini’s writing is extremely beautiful — especially her sweeping descriptions of the book’s Nantucket setting. She does a great job of bringing this small, island community to life. The writing isn’t consistently strong, however; at times, the action can feel staggered and the prose doesn’t always flow. Still, at her best, Angelini’s descriptive passages are quite lovely.
The characters of Starcrossed are largely likeable, especially the siblings and cousins of the Delos family. Their dynamic and interactions feel genuine and natural; apart from their demigod status, they could be any big happy family. Equally charming is the relationship between Helen and her single father. Their interactions are some of the book’s best, so it’s too bad that these moments largely disappear in the second half of the book.
Perhaps this book’s biggest weak spot is the relationship between Helen and Lucas; we’re told they are in love, and there are certainly some steamy moments where the sexual tension gets amped up. But I’m never convinced of the romance, because it’s never made clear why they are in love. Is it simply fated? Fate plays a big role in Starcrossed, it’s true, but it never felt like a compelling reason behind the romance — especially since the Fates seem determined to keep Helen and Lucas apart. I just really wanted to see a reason for their attraction to each other, and never felt like I did. Perhaps more compelling reasons for their romance await in future books in this series.
Starcrossed is in stores May 31st.