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Star Mother


Star Mother

Charlie N. Holmberg follows up her Spellbreaker duology with a new fantasy series, which kicks off with STAR MOTHER. In the world she creates, the Earth is much like ours but without the technology, and humans worship a Sun god. In fact, the gods have children, there are demigods and godlings, and stars are born from the Sun god and a human mother.

Ceris Wenden is a star mother, but when we meet her, she is a very unlikely candidate for any position of reverence. The 19-year-old is intent on playing a rather cruel prank on a neighbor by placing a scarecrow in front of her house and knocking on the door. Later on, Ceris becomes a woman with mature sensibilities.

"The romance is sweet and tender, which is everything one might hope for. Is the ending tied up a bit too neatly? For those who like 'happily ever after,' it will be perfect."

The Sun god is a creature that burns, so consummation is an act so painful that it is only eclipsed by the process of giving birth to a star, which always kills the mother. Her body is sent back to her family with treasures, and she is remembered and honored forever. The legend is that she goes to an afterlife that is special, where she and her loved ones are revered. But no one has ever come back from the dead to confirm that this is true.

Holmberg creates a plausible reason for Ceris to volunteer to be a star mother. She has found out that Caen, the man to whom she has been betrothed since they were barely teenagers, loves someone else. That girl, Anya, might be chosen to be the next star mother. Her death would devastate Caen, and he would never forget her. Seeing his pain daily, Ceris would be forever reminded that he loved another woman. She realizes that if she chooses to be a star mother, Caen will love her, and she will be remembered and revered.

After the consummation, Ceris must remain in the Sun god's palace for nine months, at which time she will give birth and then die. In the meantime, she has attendants who bring her food and care for her. These alien-like beings do not want to interact with her, but she wins them over by showing interest in their lives. She also wins over the Sun god halfway through her pregnancy when they dine together, and she isn’t afraid to question the entire arrangement.

It's after Ceris gives birth that something astounding and unprecedented occurs. She doesn't die. No one can explain it, and everyone thinks it's because she is somehow special. The Sun god asks her to remain with him in his palace, but Ceris wants to see her family. However, when she returns home, she discovers that 700 years have passed, and she doesn’t know anyone. She is determined to find her descendants and heads to a city where she is told some of them have moved. It's a long journey.

Along the way, Ceris meets a godling whom she protects and who promises to guide her through the forests to her destination. She also is visited by the Sun god, who asks her to return to the palace and live with him. She finds herself in the middle of a war between the gods and demigods, and the violence threatens her life as well. We see what she will sacrifice for those she loves.

Suspension of disbelief is required when Ceris gets to visit the star that is her daughter: "Before me shone an effulgent being smaller than myself, a child enveloped in a massive halo of starlight. Her skin was starlight, and her hair and eyes shone like diamonds. She smiled at me, and my heart grew too large for my chest to hold."

We eventually do find out why Ceris didn't die when birthing a star. The prankster we encountered at the start of the novel has become a wise woman --- defiant when some would oppress her, certain in her beliefs about right and wrong, and intent on making her own future. The romance is sweet and tender, which is everything one might hope for. Is the ending tied up a bit too neatly? For those who like "happily ever after," it will be perfect.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on November 12, 2021

Star Mother
by Charlie N. Holmberg

  • Publication Date: November 1, 2021
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance
  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: 47North
  • ISBN-10: 1542030463
  • ISBN-13: 9781542030465