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Star Eater

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All martyrdoms are difficult. Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach her gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Sisterhood of Aytrium’s magical bloodline horrifies her. She wants out, whatever the cost. So when a shadowy cabal approaches Elfreda with an offer of escape, sh All martyrdoms are difficult. Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach her gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Sisterhood of Aytrium’s magical bloodline horrifies her. She wants out, whatever the cost. So when a shadowy cabal approaches Elfreda with an offer of escape, she leaps at the opportunity. As their spy, she gains access to the highest reaches of the Sisterhood, and enters a glittering world of opulent parties, subtle deceptions, and unexpected bloodshed. A phantasmagorical indictment of hereditary power, Star Eater takes readers deep into a perilous and uncanny world where even the most powerful women are forced to choose what sacrifices they will make, so that they might have any choice at all.


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All martyrdoms are difficult. Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach her gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Sisterhood of Aytrium’s magical bloodline horrifies her. She wants out, whatever the cost. So when a shadowy cabal approaches Elfreda with an offer of escape, sh All martyrdoms are difficult. Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach her gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Sisterhood of Aytrium’s magical bloodline horrifies her. She wants out, whatever the cost. So when a shadowy cabal approaches Elfreda with an offer of escape, she leaps at the opportunity. As their spy, she gains access to the highest reaches of the Sisterhood, and enters a glittering world of opulent parties, subtle deceptions, and unexpected bloodshed. A phantasmagorical indictment of hereditary power, Star Eater takes readers deep into a perilous and uncanny world where even the most powerful women are forced to choose what sacrifices they will make, so that they might have any choice at all.

30 review for Star Eater

  1. 4 out of 5

    chai ♡

    Star Eater’s premise stalled me in my tracks, a pull of curiosity dragging me along like a child that has hold of my sleeve. It sounded, simultaneously, like nothing I’ve ever read and everything I never knew I needed: a story about an order of bureaucratic priestesses who practice cannibalistic magic in service of sisterhood. Also…zombies (with a deliciously hideous twist!). I was viciously intrigued. Star Eater lives up to its billing, in the most fucked up and delicious of ways. It astonishes Star Eater’s premise stalled me in my tracks, a pull of curiosity dragging me along like a child that has hold of my sleeve. It sounded, simultaneously, like nothing I’ve ever read and everything I never knew I needed: a story about an order of bureaucratic priestesses who practice cannibalistic magic in service of sisterhood. Also…zombies (with a deliciously hideous twist!). I was viciously intrigued. Star Eater lives up to its billing, in the most fucked up and delicious of ways. It astonishes and harrows to the bone, all at once. A novel that invites you to pull back the curtain and drink in the savage sights with your eyes open even as you battle the urge to look away, to put as much distance between you and the words as possible. That, however, isn’t an option: Hall’s prose is addictive, as easy to slurp down as pilfered wine, and her images are so vividly, hauntingly described they gleamed so clearly in my mind’s eye. I fell into the novel headlong and read it as if it were the last oxygen mask in a room without air, hungry for the secret revelations churning like fish under the surface, and willing to let the story take me where it might. The author plunges the reader in a world where cannibalism is a hereditary ritual, borne out of rueful necessity more than anything else, an ostensibly sufficient sacrifice in exchange for the powerful lace-magic that preserves Aytrium. But that isn’t the only price. This is the trinity of a priestess’ fears: pregnancy, Haunts (i.e. zombies), and rot. The first is carefully wrapped up in towering words of honor and duty and sacrifice, but is in truth "the beginning of the end". The second is the vicious product of a renegade Sister, and it rings of treason as clear as the moans of lament and hatred climbing up from the abyss the Haunts are doomed to. The third is more awful than death. It is a thrilling feat of worldbuilding, and I was impressed by how readily the author develops an entire world in the most exquisite level of detail, slowly and carefully threading together the intricate elements of her mythology like glass beads on a string. And, of course, there’s murder, martyrdom, and macabre political games: a necessary recipe for any vibrant and memorable tale. Throughout it all, Star Eater ponders very weighty questions: about lineage and power—power as a superlative performance, like a story well-told, power as corruption and gore, its cost and the question of who must pay it—and about the atavistic horror and silence of women’s inheritances and the virtuoso illusion of choice which can be, like any successful illusion, carefully unraveled. Elfreda’s journey is the novel’s deep, bloody heart, and the unsettling specificities of her struggle against a system that ties her to it by chains that supersede both her will and her heart amount to a haunting illustration of how society’s memory—the stories we enshrine as something gleaming and shining and those we shake off as lies and rumors—can contribute to dangerous systematic misunderstandings. In that sense, Star Eater works as a brutal, sobering jolt of self-awareness, and an invitation to take a long, hard look at the narratives we mechanically, unconsciously, often unthinkingly allow ourselves to follow, and at the poisonous constructs within which we allow ourselves to live, and fester. The slow unravelling of Elfreda’s certainties throughout the novel, like a hand shoving away cobwebs, empties her out of everything but a potent spiteful desire to finally consider what she wants, what kind of person she might be when she isn’t bending like the stem of a flower for someone else’s will—and I rooted for her so feverishly. The story, however, isn’t all gloom and deepest darkness. One of the joys of Star Eater lies in how the author dwells on extremity and beauty in equal measure, swinging from obscene scenes of violence and depravity to unexpected moments of rueful, velvet tenderness that strip you oh so gently to the bone. There’s blood and gore and hideous choices made in extremis, but there’s also the warm comfort of long-standing friendship—the kind that quiets the hornet’s nest in your head and hangs like a lamp in the darkness of your life—and a simmering, deeply moving romance filled with secret stifled longings and aching distances between people who are learning how to finally allow their hearts the freedom to fall. Above all, there’s that breathless push of hope, opening up like a flower at dawn, for change and salvation and forgiveness and ample, better tomorrows. My only real quibble with Star Eater is the stark and unignorable absence of trans and gender non-conforming people in this ostensibly queer-normative world, and I stepped out of the story itching over that absence, feeling bereft of answers to questions that weren’t even asked. I feel personally more and more out of charity for stories that treat queerness as the norm, but markedly exclude certain trans and NB identities in their worldbuilding. I really, really liked this book, but I can't truthfully say that this had not put a noticeable dent in my memory of it. If you liked this review or found it useful please consider leaving me a tip on ko-fi ! ☆ ko-fi ★ blog ☆ twitter ★ tumblr ☆

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    3.5 stars Well, Hall proved you can still be innovative in fantasy. I doubt you've read anything like this book. - A sisterhood running the government - They eat their mothers' flesh to get "lace" - A piece of land the Eater basically cut off the ground and sent it way up - Bi women run things. - If they have sex with men, the latter will become zombie-like. They only grow stronger, gradually losing their humanity. Since they're immortals, they are pushed over the edge of their world.. literally. - 3.5 stars Well, Hall proved you can still be innovative in fantasy. I doubt you've read anything like this book. - A sisterhood running the government - They eat their mothers' flesh to get "lace" - A piece of land the Eater basically cut off the ground and sent it way up - Bi women run things. - If they have sex with men, the latter will become zombie-like. They only grow stronger, gradually losing their humanity. Since they're immortals, they are pushed over the edge of their world.. literally. - Did I mention the lace is their magic? Like spiderman? The book tells the story of Elfreda who is still relatively new to this world, her mother died last year -early for people her age- and her life changed since then. Now she’s older than many of the acolytes. Hall sets up the “atmosphere” of the book at first. The story actually starts when another nun convinces Elfreda to spy for her, in return, she’ll ensure she avoids the next Renewal. And El would do anything to avoid having a convict having sex with her (they do need kids after all). But soon it becomes obvious that stakes are much higher than she imagined and there are dangerous secrets and conspiracies at work. The Star Eater is an adult fantasy book told from Elfreda’s pov but using the third person. It was captivating from the start. I honestly had no idea what’s going on at first but one needs to be patient because while everything will make sense eventually, it was a slow process. I didn’t mind though. As for the characters, El is devoted to her friends and always questioning her reality. The secondary characters were interesting and I liked many of them. They played an important part in this book. While the characters were developed, I still couldn’t connect with them. I honestly didn’t care much about them beyond the usual “you want the heroes to succeed”. I also didn’t feel the romance between the heroine and the love interest. I only saw them as friends. Didn’t see the sparks. Another issue I had with this book was that creating just a crazy world-building requires more than the normal amount of explanations. And while there was no info dump here, I still have many questions. I know for certain that they won’t be answered in the next book (if there was one). It also took me a long time to finish, some parts were boring. Mostly. I don't know if it'll have a sequel, but there is no cliffhanger and the ending was wrapped up in a way it would be okay if you read it on its own. I think though that it needs a sequel since there's much-left unexplored in this world especially, after that ending. In sum, this was an interesting read, the characters were well-written, and the ending was satisfying, kind of. The world-building needed a bit more development or at least some questions needed to be answered. I mostly enjoyed reading The Star Eater nonetheless, its quality surpassed most arcs I read lately. Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    I never thought I would say this but I wanted more cannibalism and religion from this cannibal nun zombie story. Yup, that’s a sentence I just typed. This is a story about a world that follows a matriarchal society with a sisterhood that has a bizarre magic system with bizarre repercussions. In order to maintain their power, known as lace, they need to consume the flesh of other sisters (ie their moms, etc.) There’s also this whole thing where they have to continue the bloodline but infect any m I never thought I would say this but I wanted more cannibalism and religion from this cannibal nun zombie story. Yup, that’s a sentence I just typed. This is a story about a world that follows a matriarchal society with a sisterhood that has a bizarre magic system with bizarre repercussions. In order to maintain their power, known as lace, they need to consume the flesh of other sisters (ie their moms, etc.) There’s also this whole thing where they have to continue the bloodline but infect any men they have sex with with a zombie creating STI. So there’s that. And then some political upheaval and revolution from the ranks, ya know, the works. Yeah, I have no clue how to describe this book. So all that being said, most of the things that were intriguing to me as a reader (the horrific stuff) wasn’t on page very much and most of the story is just political drama amongst the sisters and from the rest of society. I had a hard time keeping track of who was who a majority of the time and I realized partway through the book that this was largely because there are almost zero physical descriptions of anyone. I believe this was done on purpose to dehumanize a lot of the characters but it made me hard to picture everyone and keep all the characters straight. I like the concept of this world and how it plays on heredity power in all ways symbolically and literally; physical, magical, emotional, societal. The act of having to eat your mother to continue your line of power has a lot of impact and I would have liked to explore that whole system a bit more. I didn’t care much for the main character though, she felt very naive in a spoiled way. Which is true and accurate but it didn’t seem like she learned or grew much without things directly affecting her. As in, if something wouldn’t impact her personally, I don’t think she would have come to the realizations she did. And that feels very YA to me. In fact most of the characters felt very YA to me just set in an adult fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi world. I would be interested to see what I think about this retreading it in the future to see if I take more away now that I understand it. 3/5 stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lizy

    Note: I received an ABM of STAR EATER from a contact at TorDotCom in exchange for an honest review. Special thanks to Ruoxi and the Tor team. Secondary note: afaik this is the first public review of STAR EATER, so there's a lot I'm purposely leaving out because I don't want to spoil too much too early. So head's up. Anyway this book is amazing so let's dive in. Aytrium is a world that floats above a hellish landscape because The Star Eater literally ate a star and used the power from it to lift th Note: I received an ABM of STAR EATER from a contact at TorDotCom in exchange for an honest review. Special thanks to Ruoxi and the Tor team. Secondary note: afaik this is the first public review of STAR EATER, so there's a lot I'm purposely leaving out because I don't want to spoil too much too early. So head's up. Anyway this book is amazing so let's dive in. Aytrium is a world that floats above a hellish landscape because The Star Eater literally ate a star and used the power from it to lift the entire country up into the sky on giant pillars. She did this because all these men were turning into haunts, which are basically zombie mutants. Haunts are created by men interacting in close contact with the nuns who worship the original Star Eater. So to recap: nuns accidentally created zombies everywhere and lifted their entire country into the heavens so they could push all the zombies past and present off the edge and not deal with them ever again. This is just background context. The nuns, by the way, get their power from eating each other. Yes like ritual cannibalism. Specifically, they keep their dead mothers on like, life support, basically, and then they go in and cut off lil bits of skin and eat them and then they have magic. Oh, and the magic is lace. They wield lace weapons. Think Spideman’s webs but if he was throwing Excalibur around. And also if Spiderman was a nun. So once again, to recap: nuns are eating each other so they can use lace weapons to fight off zombies that they created. If you’re not sold yet I don’t want to be friends with you, no offense. But to quote Billy Mays, but wait, there’s more! STAR EATER is a book all about political intrigue, secret factions inside secret factions, plots to overthrow people, there’s a lot of delightfully gory murder, there’s also a major drought going on and the civilians kinda sorta want the entire Sisterhood to go die forever but like, in a nice way, but is “please just go die in a hole” ever a nice thing? That question is answered in STAR EATER. And moving on from the subjective into the objective... This is the sort of book that pops the H back into the SFFH acronym and checks the boxes on all three. The first chapter blew me away, as all good first chapters do. I expected that. The second chapter, though, had me hooked. I was a goner, y’all. STAR EATER is a wild ride of speculative fantasy that is gripping, compelling, delightfully scary, a little bit vengeful, and 100% quality. It’s wonderfully complex without being overwhelming. Hall weaves such intricate story lines of dwindling power structures and dominance with personal ones of friendship, forbidden love, and self-sacrifice in the best of ways. You will hold your breath turning the pages of this book. And beyond that, OH MY GOD IT WAS SO GOOD???? If you like the weirder side of SFFH this is a deadass must-read. People eat their enemies. They ride around on giant cats and have sex with ghosty zombies and eat bug paste for funsies. Obviously this book is not for all readers but if you're into the wonky part of SFF or you like horror, you need this book on your radar. It is metal, and I highly recommend it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Books with Brittany

    I have very conflicting thoughts on this one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    [ARC received from Tor, real review coming elsewhere] In theory: an incredible premise (cannibal witch nuns keep a floating city alive over a pit of zombie monster men created by STIs from the cannibal witch nuns) with the promise of a deep examination of fantasy's reliance on bloodlines and hereditary power(s). In practice: YA characters in YA relationships with YA affects feeling betrayed by the adult world, about which I can tell you very little even after these 400+ pages because not much was [ARC received from Tor, real review coming elsewhere] In theory: an incredible premise (cannibal witch nuns keep a floating city alive over a pit of zombie monster men created by STIs from the cannibal witch nuns) with the promise of a deep examination of fantasy's reliance on bloodlines and hereditary power(s). In practice: YA characters in YA relationships with YA affects feeling betrayed by the adult world, about which I can tell you very little even after these 400+ pages because not much was spelled out with any depth to speak of. The nuns run the government and there's a rebellion against them, but they mostly seem to be petty bureaucrats, and I'm not even sure if the general population follows or cares about their religion or not. Life seems pretty staid overall for a bunch of people living in a floating city run by cannibal witch nuns and menaced by zombie monster men. I went into this looking forward to a Weird City, but you never really get a sense of place or history or even context for much that's going on. There's a big twist that falls pretty flat because the accepted truth of the world was never actually explained to the reader before being ripped away from the characters, although that does set off a quest that's the highlight of the novel, before the whole thing ends pretty anticlimactically. That said, the main character's inner turmoil is conveyed quite well, as are her eerie and vivid hallucinations, almost like brief visions of the much weirder and more interesting book this could have been. PS Who would have expected a 2021 Tordotcom pub to be so old-fashioned in its gender-essentialist magic and utter lack of acknowledgement of the possibility of trans and NB characters? Not me!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Video Review: https://youtu.be/5bOvSKq6F-w Star Eater was a wild ride and I think I mostly enjoyed it, but I have questions. Yes, this is indeed a book about witchy cannibal nuns and even though I knew that going in, the author still managed to do it in a way that was very unsettling. This book is largely an exploration of power. Elfreda has magic and is in some ways powerful, but she was also born into a life that constrains her choices about love, reproduction, death, and the use of her body. I Video Review: https://youtu.be/5bOvSKq6F-w Star Eater was a wild ride and I think I mostly enjoyed it, but I have questions. Yes, this is indeed a book about witchy cannibal nuns and even though I knew that going in, the author still managed to do it in a way that was very unsettling. This book is largely an exploration of power. Elfreda has magic and is in some ways powerful, but she was also born into a life that constrains her choices about love, reproduction, death, and the use of her body. It's disturbing and it's supposed to be. This is a world where many people are bisexual (including most of the main characters), and Sisters might find love and marriage with women, but reproduction involves what amounts to the required ceremonial r*pe of a man, usually a criminal. Because sex with a Sister infects men and turns them into creatures that are like a mashup of zombie, vampire, and werewolf. The Sister is left without a choice and the man is magically compelled. It's messed up. A lot of things are messed up. And that's the point. It's a dystopian view of a matriarchial society with backstabbing and aims for personal gain. I was certainly captivated, but the ending felt a little too neat and I was left with questions. Some about the world and magic, but also about the choice to have a book published in 2021 that is entirely founded on a system of gender essentialist magic where trans and non-binary people don't exist. I think this could have been done in a more nuanced way that explored the constructs of gender as they relate to power and magic. But instead we get a very traditional, binary approach. Which feels especially odd in a book with so many bisexual characters, which is another identity that is often erased or ignored. I appreciate the bi representation, but I'm not sure why the choice here was to instead ignore the existence of genderqueer individuals. We can and should do better. Note: This review briefly touched on this issue and once I saw it, I couldn't unsee it: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... The audiobook is well-done and the nonchalance of the narrator in some of these horrific scenes adds something. The horror of things becoming normalized. I'm left with very mixed feelings on this one. It's definitely something new, and there were a lot of things I liked about the story, but it also wasn't a perfect book. I received an audio copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    Actual rating 2.5/5 stars. "Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her." I was so looking forward to reading a fantasy novel with a matriarchal, religious body ruling the lands it was set in. Through no fault of the wonderful narrator, Samara Naeymi, I had some early confusion with the details of this world and it formed a later disconnect with the characters and this story, however. I never felt I truly understood the reasons behind all the decis Actual rating 2.5/5 stars. "Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her." I was so looking forward to reading a fantasy novel with a matriarchal, religious body ruling the lands it was set in. Through no fault of the wonderful narrator, Samara Naeymi, I had some early confusion with the details of this world and it formed a later disconnect with the characters and this story, however. I never felt I truly understood the reasons behind all the decisions made or all the issues persecuting the Sisters of the story and these questions dogged me all the way to the novel's close. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Kerstin Hall, and the publisher, R.B Media, for this opportunity.

  9. 4 out of 5

    charlotte,

    On my blog. Actual rating 2.5 Rep: bi mc, bi side character, sapphic side characters, gay side character CWs: gore, cannibalism, violence, implied rape Galley provided by publisher There are some books where you start to find yourself a little bored and that boredom comes to colour every further page you read. You can’t escape the boredom, you can only hope that the ending is such that the boredom is wiped out. Which was, sadly, the case with me and Star Eater (and, to be clear, the ending was not On my blog. Actual rating 2.5 Rep: bi mc, bi side character, sapphic side characters, gay side character CWs: gore, cannibalism, violence, implied rape Galley provided by publisher There are some books where you start to find yourself a little bored and that boredom comes to colour every further page you read. You can’t escape the boredom, you can only hope that the ending is such that the boredom is wiped out. Which was, sadly, the case with me and Star Eater (and, to be clear, the ending was not such that the boredom disappeared). The book follows Elfreda, a member of the Sisterhood, a group of cannibalistic nuns who worship the Star Eater. Unassuming, or so she thinks, she finds herself caught up in a power struggle. I would say a bit more, but there really isn’t that much more to it. Perhaps that contributed to my boredom, but who knows? Perhaps not. I think my major problems with the book stemmed from the worldbuilding. In all honesty, I was expecting more. On the whole, it just felt like your generic fantasy setting, albeit on a floating city (a fact which I could swear wasn’t brought up until the end), and with a religion centering on cannibal nuns. Which wouldn’t have been so much of a problem if I’d felt like the religion was developed in any way. I couldn’t for the life of me tell you exactly what they worshipped, what they believed in. And I don’t think that’s me forgetting things! (At least, I hope not.) There was a gap between “oh this is a cool concept” and “yes I know how this religion functions”. Not to mention, it didn’t seem to be a religion that many people followed, but the Sisterhood had the power in the city. So what’s the truth? Are those calling them corpse eaters and hating them a minority, or did the Resistance really have enough power itself to oust the Sisterhood? Who knows! But it wasn’t just the religion where I felt the worldbuilding fell down. It was the politics too, and the way some things were introduced as if they were important — food shortages, the Resistance — and then nothing came of them. I know they weren’t relevant to the main plotline, but if you’re going to introduce those aspects as if they are (and they were introduced in that way), then they might get more than an abrupt disappearance of the problems later on. And then there was the opposite — important information regarding the world appearing at just the right time, never having been mentioned or foreshadowed before. (I will take a brief moment to note though, that I was reading an ARC I downloaded in November(?), so it’s entirely possible that all of this no longer applies.) (That being said, it’s the book I read so. Gotta review that.) The book might have been redeemed if I had cared about the characters at all, but, in all honesty, I struggled to. I couldn’t really tell you why, but nothing about them stood out for me, or really interested me. So I was stuck, slogging my way through a book where the worldbuilding bored me and the characters fared barely any better. But! I am perfectly happy to accept this was all down to me. I don’t think this was a bad book — far from it — but it wasn’t a me book. So, if you read this wondering if you should still read it, I would say yes. Do.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Landice (Manic Femme)

    This was a wild, at times horrifying, ride from start to finish. I’m super impressed because the author managed to viscerally horrify me with aspects I was definitely expecting from the synopsis (the cannibalism, for example), because they were done in a totally unique, unexpected way. All in all a fantastic, gripping, fast paced read! Let's be friends! Bookstagram | Booktube | Booktok | Book Blog | Twitter This was a wild, at times horrifying, ride from start to finish. I’m super impressed because the author managed to viscerally horrify me with aspects I was definitely expecting from the synopsis (the cannibalism, for example), because they were done in a totally unique, unexpected way. All in all a fantastic, gripping, fast paced read! Let's be friends! Bookstagram | Booktube | Booktok | Book Blog | Twitter

  11. 4 out of 5

    sol

    nuns, bisexuals and CANNIBALS where have you been all my life?

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Gibson

    The Short Version: A competently written fantasy that is half palace intrigue, half magical journey. It stumbled out of the blocks but got better as it went, but was a let down because of the tangled mess that comprised the magic system. The Long Version: I got to listen to the audiobook of this title thanks to NetGalley and Recorded Books. This is a really tough one for me, as I almost feel bad for not giving it a higher rating. I didn’t find this book overly enjoyable, but at the same time, I k The Short Version: A competently written fantasy that is half palace intrigue, half magical journey. It stumbled out of the blocks but got better as it went, but was a let down because of the tangled mess that comprised the magic system. The Long Version: I got to listen to the audiobook of this title thanks to NetGalley and Recorded Books. This is a really tough one for me, as I almost feel bad for not giving it a higher rating. I didn’t find this book overly enjoyable, but at the same time, I know in my bones that it’s well written and mostly well executed. I’m confident there will be large groups of people who absolutely fall in love with this book. Before I get too deep into the book itself, let me take a moment to recognize the tremendous work of the narrator in this audiobook. There is a single narrator to this audiobook, but I would’ve sworn that it was a cast performance. The voice work was the absolute best but I have heard in any audiobook I’ve listened to. A lot of the problems I have with this book actually stem from the description given about it. The language in the blurb creates a dense gothic atmosphere. I had a weighty expectation of gore, viscera, and the macabre, and while there were moments of it, this wasn’t a bloodbath. This read much more like Pride and Prejudice, than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Going in with an unrealistic impression of what the book would be, definitely hurt my listening experience. The opening chapter has some tension to it, so there was promise right off the bat, but very quickly devolved into a meandering palace intrigue story. In the earlier chapters, the author tries to tease at the magic system providing vague glimpses instead of a fuller picture. I’m sure this is meant to draw the reader in, but for me it created more distance between myself and the story, considering the macabre wasn’t there, and I was expecting a different type of story than it turned out to be. I also struggled to get on board with the protagonist. The book is described as an “Indictment of hereditary power”, yet the protagonist comes from the privileged class and we’re made to feel that she’s the victim. Her words and thoughts for about 80% of the book also portray her as mostly unsympathetic to the blight of the lower less privileged class. She mostly seems to dislike the most elite because they do things to her that she doesn’t like, not because their actions are necessarily immoral in her eyes. Basically I feel that if she wasn’t personally targeted, she would have quietly gone along with even the most egregious acts that her sisters perpetrated. There’s a romance thrown in that I’m sure is supposed to endear you to the protagonist as well, so that you were rooting for their love. Problem is, the love interest is too pure, too white night, and reads as an archetype with too little gradation. Even while there were a lot of things that put distance between me and this book, I can recognize that it’s well written and mostly well constructed. The plot follows a logical plot line, there’s twists, there’s betrayals, there’s life or death stakes. All of this is written in seamless prose that never draws your attention in a negative way. In that respect, it was easy to feel like I was experiencing a story, not being read a story. The action picks up about 40% through the book, but that point there was so much distance between me and the story that I struggled to become fully invested. From that 40% mark however it’s a much crisper narrative and more tightly paced. Unfortunately, where it picks up a lot of steam as it propels to the finish, I was not a fan of the ending either. Based on the tensions between factions clearly illustrated throughout the book, the description of the “After” seems far too “and they all lived happily ever after” where I would expect political warring if not outright war. But i’ve saved the biggest dealbreaker for last. This magic system was messy. The idea of cannibalistic magic drew me to this story, I thought it would be dark and vicious, but instead it was really mostly staid and Victorian. Putting that aside, there was a ton that didn’t make sense to me in the magic system. The biggest issue was the sisters (magic users) would run out of magical power, then recharge by eating the bodies of martyred sisters. So, why don’t these martyrs run out of power? How are they these endless batteries? Also the limits of the magic were very vague considering it was a central component to the story. Lastly, the uses of the magic seemed really small compared to the costs of it, like there seemed to be little point to maintaining the system considering how it all worked. This is explained a little toward the end, but by then I was fully over the system. Overall 3 stars. There are plenty of people who will really like this story, but it failed to grab me off the bat, and I was left with so many questions on the magic system which is what drew me in to begin with. Component Ratings Concept/Idea: 3.5 out of 5 Protagonist: 2.5 out of 5 Antagonists: 4 out of 5 Supporting Characters: 3 out of 5 Character Development: 2.5 out of 5 Magic System: 1.5 out of 5 Plot: 4.5 out of 5 Pacing: 2.5 out of 5 Narrators Performance: 4.5 out of 5 Prose: 4 out of 5 Dialogue: 4 out 5 Ending: 2 out of 5

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    3/5 I didn't think I'd ever say this, but for a book about religious, cannibal nuns, I needed more religion. And cannibalism. 3/5 I didn't think I'd ever say this, but for a book about religious, cannibal nuns, I needed more religion. And cannibalism.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rin

    I was really excited for Star Eater. I mean, a magic system steeped in cannibalism? Zombies? This sounded so fascinating. But the actual worldbuilding here along with the story at the core of it is lackluster. There's a lot of names and terms dropped in the first 100 pages with no rhyme or reason. The character meanders for a while, with no other purpose than a "woe is me" internal dialogue. Worldbuilding must go deeper than your character ruminating on the things around them. They have to engag I was really excited for Star Eater. I mean, a magic system steeped in cannibalism? Zombies? This sounded so fascinating. But the actual worldbuilding here along with the story at the core of it is lackluster. There's a lot of names and terms dropped in the first 100 pages with no rhyme or reason. The character meanders for a while, with no other purpose than a "woe is me" internal dialogue. Worldbuilding must go deeper than your character ruminating on the things around them. They have to engage with it on a deeper level. I honestly feel like I've read an entirely different book than everyone else. This is being praised for "unpacking" hereditary power and martyrdoms, and I guess it did that . . . technically? But that doesn't make it actually interesting. What I got was a YA-esque "there's a conspiracy and we have to stop it" plot and a cookie cutter white girl heroine with a dry love interest. Also, a "queer normative" world with an extremely gender-binary juxtaposition of "women have cannibal magic" and "men turn into zombies" with no interesting exploration beyond that--and absolutely no mention and/or presence of trans/non-binary people, which frankly, left a bad taste in my mouth. Not only is it unimaginative, not only have we seen this sort of thing done before (sans the cannibal magic, I guess), but not including trans/non-binary people in your queer world is a statement even if you don't want it to be. I'm sure a lot of people will like this book but I must also be honest here and say I found Star Eater to be agonizingly boring and can not think of a single validating thing to say about it other than uh . . . the concept was good? Yeah. Good concept. But that's not saying much if you don't execute it well.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alena Reading

    ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. DNF at 20% I really tried to push through and get invested in the story but so far I haven't seen any plot, compelling characterization or coherent world-building. I was utterly confused as to what kind of world this was set in and couldn't care less for the main character, whose only trait was that she didn't want to continue having ceremonial sex with convicts. Oh, and for some unknown reason she was slowly eating her ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. DNF at 20% I really tried to push through and get invested in the story but so far I haven't seen any plot, compelling characterization or coherent world-building. I was utterly confused as to what kind of world this was set in and couldn't care less for the main character, whose only trait was that she didn't want to continue having ceremonial sex with convicts. Oh, and for some unknown reason she was slowly eating her dead (maybe not dead?) mother. Why? As with everything else in this novel, I have no idea. If during the first 20% the book hasn't managed to peak my interest or make me understand what kind of world or story this is, I know that there's no point in continuing. Also, the writing read very YA which is not bad by itself but a huge turn-off for me.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Star Eater by Kerstin Hall (Solid 4.5 Stars) Here is my "from-the-hip" review. SPOILER WARNING! I’m so sad it’s done! I wanted so much more! But in a good way. This is going to be tough to rate. I really enjoyed it. So glad that I stuck with my gut on this one. Even though by the end I really wanted more and the ending, or at least the last five chapters felt a bit rushed, I still loved every minute I was reading this book. I love that the ending conflict was super surreal and chaotic and nightma Star Eater by Kerstin Hall (Solid 4.5 Stars) Here is my "from-the-hip" review. SPOILER WARNING! I’m so sad it’s done! I wanted so much more! But in a good way. This is going to be tough to rate. I really enjoyed it. So glad that I stuck with my gut on this one. Even though by the end I really wanted more and the ending, or at least the last five chapters felt a bit rushed, I still loved every minute I was reading this book. I love that the ending conflict was super surreal and chaotic and nightmarish but also peaceful and serene at the same time. The juxtaposition of nature and death and spirituality and mental health and inner strength and heritage of power and femininity, throughout the entire book, was wonderful and intriguing. Just a whole lot of great themes, no doubt, but also characters that actually gave a sh*t about each other and a sacrifice by the main character that didn’t feel like a traditional “loss” for others gain or too tropey or discounting. That moment in the temple... was super unsettling that the spikes went through her wrists. YUCK. I hate it. I love it. It all sent shivers down my spine. The dialogue, for me, was the weaker aspect of the book but truthfully and for the sake of not giving shallow reasoning, it really helped make the absurdness of the horror elements and the complexities of the matriarchal politics easier to comprehend and digest. I do hate it when it feels like the author rushed the ending, possibly out of fear of staying too long in the slow peaceful aftermath. Like let me see Elfreda hug Millie one more time! Let me hear about where they are going and why and what they hope to find out there during their expedition! But also here I am already SEEING those things and creating my own hopeful narrative. I love when books make you hope like that. The characters were a little above average but I think the dialogue may have hurt their individuality. I did like the way the bad guys all received cool and satisfying crunchy deaths. Still, I really cared about Millie and El. I loved the seamless inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters and the way the people of this world used body/hand language with their gestures almost like signing while they spoke. Really cool and have never seen it done like that in this genre. Aside from El and a few of the conspiracist nuns on El's side like Saskia, I really was surprised by how much I loved Osan and Millie. Two supporting characters that could have easily been redundant or typical but were completely the opposite. The world building was so subtle and nuanced and understated but in a way that made me hunger for more without feeling let down by not getting sated with what Hall trickled through the world building. The way information was slowly fed to us through environmental storytelling, subtle details in the worldbuilding, and through El’s “visions” especially when she learned what they really were, which was also a really cool and pleasant surprise and not what I was expecting. I also love that the cannibalism element wasn’t like… for shock value or overstated. It served a really cool and symbolic and weirdly beautiful purpose, albeit gross. After the first time, which I’ll admit shook me a bit, I was like ok, this makes sense. No weirder than Christians when they take communion. Okay, one gripe that I had about the ending... I hate that we didn’t get to see her be rescued… did she wake up alone in the temple? Weren’t there other bad guys pursuing them? or maybe the others were picked off and that left only Selene? What if she’s pregnant!?!?!?!? If she is pregnant with a half haunt baby that gives her powers while she’s carrying !?!? (Ah, fun speculation. To me, a sign of a great book!) I will say the pacing towards the end was rushed but that’s what every author I feel like is told to do these days in the final act (and if it's true I hate it! Let me stay a little longer, please!) but at the same time the book never felt like it was over staying it’s welcome. I just really want to know more, to explore more of this world. I hope Hall returns to it sooner than later. I love when a book is compulsively readable. I couldn’t put it down. Despite the seemingly simplistic dialogue and the fact that I really wanted MORE. I really enjoyed this book. The world itself is a new favorite and I want to use this as new compass when navigating the kind of fantasy I consume moving forward!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emma Cathryne

    This was a WHAMMY of a book. A governing society of nuns on a floating sky island that engage in ritualistic cannibalism? STIs that turn men into Zombie's? Rideable cats the size of horses? Kerstin's Hall's debut novella The Border Keeper sent me into this expecting phenomenal world-building, and Hall did not disappoint. This is not a light book, and in addition to the aforementioned cannibalism it covers issues of bodily autonomy, fraught mother-daughter relationships, grief, trauma, and body h This was a WHAMMY of a book. A governing society of nuns on a floating sky island that engage in ritualistic cannibalism? STIs that turn men into Zombie's? Rideable cats the size of horses? Kerstin's Hall's debut novella The Border Keeper sent me into this expecting phenomenal world-building, and Hall did not disappoint. This is not a light book, and in addition to the aforementioned cannibalism it covers issues of bodily autonomy, fraught mother-daughter relationships, grief, trauma, and body horror, among other things. Still, nothing feels extraneous: the events in the novel; while sometimes deeply dark, all serve a purpose, whether it is making a powerful statement or driving the plot and characters where they need to go. Star Eater moves at a breakneck pace, a fact which serves it well for approximately 4/5ths of the novel before getting a little out of control near the end. This is also a deeply sensory book. Not only do Elfreda's unreliable visions create a tenuous, dream-like reality for us as the reader, but Hall's visuals are gorgeous, horrifying, and stomach-turning in equal measure. I felt transfixed by this, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in an "I found this video of an internet guy eating a bug and now I can't tear my eyes away" way. My quibbles with this book have to do with 1) character and 2) the aforementioned last 1/5 of the book. While I enjoyed the characters for the most part, particularly Elfreda's devoted driver Osan and childhood friend Millie, I was annoyed by the love interest, who didn't posses much of a spark of personality beyond loving the MC and being....nice? I'm not sure. Even at the conclusion of this book I feel like I can count his compelling personality traits on one hand. My other issue was, of course, the end of the book. Without going into any spoilers, it was incredibly abrupt, fairly rushed, and left me feeling confused and unsatisfied. Still, the sheer gravity and inventiveness of the world-buidling is enough to cement this at 4 stars for me. Kerstin Hall's mind is a weird, wonderful marvel, and I can't wait to read what she writes next!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Smith

    Thank you to the publishers and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Star Eater is an adult fantasy about a religious order of women who rule a floating city/island in the sky. They worship the Star Eater, a woman who ate a Star and swallowed her power and used it to raise the city into the sky. The women are duty bound to carry on the bloodlines and have children, but the men they have sex with become infected and turn into monsters, and the sooner they die. Once they “die”, t Thank you to the publishers and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Star Eater is an adult fantasy about a religious order of women who rule a floating city/island in the sky. They worship the Star Eater, a woman who ate a Star and swallowed her power and used it to raise the city into the sky. The women are duty bound to carry on the bloodlines and have children, but the men they have sex with become infected and turn into monsters, and the sooner they die. Once they “die”, they fall into a coma and their daughters are forced to slowly consume tiny pieces of their flesh to restore their powers, stored in the body and called “lace.” The book specifically follows Elfreda Raughn, one of the nuns in the Sisterhood of Aytrium, who wants anything but the fate of pregnancy/death. While wading through the pain of losing her mother and finding her place amidst the unsettling visions that plague her, she becomes involved in a plot that promises a way out of her looming fate of motherhood and martyrdom, and as she gets more involved, reveals a way to fix her society. I thoroughly enjoyed Star Eater and its unsettling, mystical tone. With the cannibalism, the religion, and the visions, Star Eater set itself apart as a unique adult fantasy novel. It was a delightfully creepy read with fantastic and masterful world (and religion!) building. Once getting the hang of the book after I started reading, I was enthralled. The queer representation and casual acceptance was well done, as was the F x M romance. Really I have nothing to complain about other than I wish the ending had been explained slightly more, with the time skip and the epilogue, as I felt like some things were too unclear. Highly recommend for those looking for a unique adult fantasy!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kathrine

    2/5 Amazing cover, title, and premise. Everything else was just bad: poor worldbuilding, boring plot, uninteresting characters, and annoying romance This was such a letdown. I was immediately drawn to this when I saw the cover and heard something about cannibal nuns (for some reason I thought this was sci-fi, but it was much closer to fantasy), and I was hyped for this. I'm sad to say that very little of this worked for me. I didn't care about the characters, the plot bored me, and I hated how eve 2/5 Amazing cover, title, and premise. Everything else was just bad: poor worldbuilding, boring plot, uninteresting characters, and annoying romance This was such a letdown. I was immediately drawn to this when I saw the cover and heard something about cannibal nuns (for some reason I thought this was sci-fi, but it was much closer to fantasy), and I was hyped for this. I'm sad to say that very little of this worked for me. I didn't care about the characters, the plot bored me, and I hated how everything was wrapped up in a neat little bow at the end. With a premise like this I was expecting something much darker, and something that wasn't afraid to take risks, but this read like every generic ya written in like 2014. I don't have much to say about the plot. So much is set up, but none of it pays off. Like, what was the point of the resistance? What was the point of having a murder mystery? Who are all of these characters you keep namedropping, but who don't have any impact on the plot at all? I also found the last 20% very strange, the motivation for certain choices didn't make sense to me, and why are we having a road trip at the end of a book? The ending info dump also didn't work, and everything was very predictable. You're telling me that the order of flesh-eating nuns who kill children were the bad guys all along? Wow, never saw that coming. Also, I disliked everything about the renewers, and how El's decisions were never her own. This is such boring chosen one stuff, and I hated how this book was too afraid to commit to its premise. (view spoiler)[So, El has to be sacrificed because she's a 'chosen one', a renewer, and I was surprised that this would have the balls to kill off the main character, but lo and behold, it never did. There was also no reason for why she didn't die, it was just like: 'oh the Star just left, but I'm fine now and so is everyone else. The end.' (hide spoiler)] . I wanted and expected this to be darker. With a premise surrounding cannibalism, I was gearing myself up for a wild ride. And sure, there is plenty of violence and gore, but apart from that, this read like YA, which just wasn't what I was looking for with this. I liked the reasoning for the cannibalism and how their magic is replenished by eating parts of other sisters, which is fun and fucked up, and I liked how the sisters, especially Elfreda, struggled with this, and that there were negative consequences for replenishing your lace by eating too much made you physically ill. So, I liked the idea behind the magic. However, I'm not going to call it a magic system, because the sisters just use the lace for whatever the fuck they feel like. Apart from the replenishing of the lace (magic), there were no rules to how the magic actually works, and there's no consistency here. This aspect reeked of poor YA world-building, but this is supposed to be adult? I honestly don't know what this book set out to do. I've already complained about this world, and I've seen people complain about how binary this world is in regards to gender. I totally agree, and I think this is the main reason why this feels so outdated. So okay, the order consists only of women, and if any of the sisters have sex with a man, they turn into a zombie-thing (the haunts were decently spooky, and made for some good body horror). Are we just assuming that other genders don't exist in this world? I think it would have been interesting to discuss how these 'rules' apply to those who don't identify within this rigid system. There are gay characters, but gender is just totally forgotten. This is just an example of how poorly thought out the world is. I didn't have too many issues with the characters, but that's because they're so forgettable. Elfreda is such a generic protagonist, and I didn't care about her at all. This tries to create both likable characters and threatening antagonists, but it just failed. The only relationship that had any development and that I actually liked was Elfreda and Osan's relationship. They're sweet, and I enjoyed how their relationship grew from animosity to familial love, and Osan is charming. I really didn't like Elfreda's romantic relationships. I didn't like either Millie or Finn, and I was annoyed by Elfreda's constant switching back and forth between who she wants. I wouldn't have minded a poly relationship, and I think that could have worked except for the fact that Millie and Finn are siblings, so Elfreda has to choose one of them. Just make them not related? They never act like siblings, so why not just make them friends and open the door for a poly relationship since Elfreda can't seem to make up her mind? Again, this refuses to acknowledge other queer people than cis gay/bi/lesbian people. I think she had a bit more chemistry with Millie, and everything with Finn was so forced and messy and just straight-up annoying. I don't have any issues with the prose. This has some decent body horror, and I think this is one of its redeeming features. This is shelved as horror, but that's a stretch (why is this book shelved so incorrectly? This is the first time I've encountered this on Goodreads). This is never scary, but it sometimes has a decent ominous atmosphere, but I wouldn't call that scary in any way. The narrator was also fine. Don't have a lot to say here. I think the narrator only contributed to this feeling like YA. Overall, this was a mess. It was too scared to commit to its amazing premise, and the characters, world-building, and plot were plucked straight out of the worst kind of generic YA fantasy. This could have been good, but wow did it miss the mark for me. The only reason this isn't getting a lower rating is that I didn't hate it, but that's because this almost didn't evoke any emotion in me besides complete boredom and indifference. (I've been shitting on YA a lot in this review, and I'd like to state that I enjoy YA when it's done well, but that happens so rarely for me. Of course YA fantasy isn't a bad genre, I just wanted a more adult story with this one in particular)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lady Amanda

    Aaaaah this book was so scary and unique! It was a little scary for me but it was really interesting!! Check out my full review here!!! I received a free copy of this book and am leaving this review voluntarily Bookish Brews | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Facebook Aaaaah this book was so scary and unique! It was a little scary for me but it was really interesting!! Check out my full review here!!! I received a free copy of this book and am leaving this review voluntarily Bookish Brews | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Facebook

  21. 5 out of 5

    Emmett

    I’ll be honest- the cover is what pulled me in most on this one. Phrases like all martyrdoms are difficult & a phantasmagorical indictment of hereditary power certainly helped as well. Cannibalism and nuns? Umm, how could I not want to read this? Safe to say, I think my expectations may have been a little high for Star Eater. While the synopsis is accurate, it certainly had me thinking the story would be a bit darker, more violent, and well- adult. I was right on the cusp of feeling invested for p I’ll be honest- the cover is what pulled me in most on this one. Phrases like all martyrdoms are difficult & a phantasmagorical indictment of hereditary power certainly helped as well. Cannibalism and nuns? Umm, how could I not want to read this? Safe to say, I think my expectations may have been a little high for Star Eater. While the synopsis is accurate, it certainly had me thinking the story would be a bit darker, more violent, and well- adult. I was right on the cusp of feeling invested for pretty much the entire 14-hour listen. The premise for this one was fascinating, however, the story never really managed to fully engage me. I wanted the religion/order part of the story explored in further depth and well- the story could have used more violence and action, for the world it was in. I think my biggest issue with it was that it felt like a YA novel that just so happened to be set in a very adult world. The main character... actually almost all of the characters, felt super whiny and overly dramatic. An apt comparison to this novel would certainly be The Year of the Witching. I wanted more from both novels in much the same way and they both very much felt YA despite their settings. In terms of the narrator, I found her pleasant to listen to and I think she did a decent job. That being said, I found the intonation on some parts a bit strange and she was sometimes too neutral. Overall, Star Eater is well-written and is filled with plenty of interesting concepts; it was just not a match for me. I would recommend it to readers of darker YA fantasy. Also, if you loved The Year of the Witching, I think you’d be doing yourself a favor by picking this one up too. *I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Celia McMahon

    I'd like to thank Lauren at Tor for making my dreams of acquiring Star Eater before its release date. The synopsis, the comp titles, and the reviews from some of my favorite authors hooked me and I knew this was going to be a book I was going to own more than one copy of. I don't think I've ever read anything like STAR EATER; the magic system is so unique, and the idea of a sisterhood running the government is uncommon but oh so welcomed! Oh, but let me tell you about the world. Aytrium is a coun I'd like to thank Lauren at Tor for making my dreams of acquiring Star Eater before its release date. The synopsis, the comp titles, and the reviews from some of my favorite authors hooked me and I knew this was going to be a book I was going to own more than one copy of. I don't think I've ever read anything like STAR EATER; the magic system is so unique, and the idea of a sisterhood running the government is uncommon but oh so welcomed! Oh, but let me tell you about the world. Aytrium is a country suspended in the air by The Star Eater who deemed men expendable. When in relations with a sister, convicted men turn into Haunts, or zombies as punishment and then pushed over the edge of the world never be seen again. If I'm bungling this description please correct me. There was so much going on and the idea of men turning into zombies by having sex was fascinating and I may have overlooked some other details. So, the sisters get their magic, aptly called lace, by eating one another. You heard me. To gain power, they eat the flesh of their family and friends per their religion and beliefs. But STAR EATER is more than magic and cannabilism. It centers around political intrigue and rebellions. Think The Handmaid's Tale, but with a little bit more freedom to move about. Elfreda is a devoted sister, but she harbors slivers of doubt which turns her into a spy. She agrees mostly because she doesn't want to have sex with a convict to turn him into a Haunt and conceive a child. But as with most high-stakes decisions, things get a bit more dangerous than she reckoned. STAR EATER is a wild book filled with giant cats that people ride like horses, and harrowing situations that kind of make me want to call this book horror. I mean, sexually transmitted zombies are a thing now. 2021 just got awesome.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Okay, so I'll admit right here and right now that I had no idea what I was walking into. Heck, once I saw that the audio was available I was freaking out with excitement. Mostly because I just really wanted to dive into Star Eater after reading the synopsis. Unfortunately, that was the best part out of the entire freaking book. Well, at least for me it was. I'm definitely blaming myself for all the hyping up I did because th I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Okay, so I'll admit right here and right now that I had no idea what I was walking into. Heck, once I saw that the audio was available I was freaking out with excitement. Mostly because I just really wanted to dive into Star Eater after reading the synopsis. Unfortunately, that was the best part out of the entire freaking book. Well, at least for me it was. I'm definitely blaming myself for all the hyping up I did because this book was just one huge disappointment to me. Some thing were just really too gross and I'm so happy that I wasn't eating or drinking anything when I got to those scenes. Then there are parts that confused me so much that I just didn't know what was going on. I honestly had no idea who was good or bad for most of this book and I secretly wished I had the ebook or physical to read instead of listening to the audiobook. If I did, I don't think my opinion on the book would have changed drastically but I think some of my confusion would never appear. Maybe. Again, not completely sure right now. Other than that, I thought the whole nuns who were kind of like black widows was a pretty interesting idea. It definitely had potential to be a great book. Unfortunately, it just had parts where absolutely nothing was happening and I felt like I was missing a lot of information. Whether it was the lack of world building or even the characters. I honestly had no idea who was who and just sat back and watched the chaos unfold. Before I forget, there was also some romance but I didn't really care for it. I think it would have been fine with zero romance and a lot more action to keep me from zoning in and out of the book. I'm also pretty happy that this isn't a series because I just don't think I could handle another book. It would definitely confuse me even more.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda's Book Den

    I’m DNFing this for now and leaving a midway star review. I love the concepts and ideas of Stareater, the government run by a society of women who spin (lace) magic from the blood of their mothers. I also love the story of a young individual in that society wanting so desperately to get out of it, that they become a spy within. Unfortunately I don’t believe I am in the right mindset for this story at the moment. It’s cut throat, gruesome and dives right into the world. Trying to read this as an I’m DNFing this for now and leaving a midway star review. I love the concepts and ideas of Stareater, the government run by a society of women who spin (lace) magic from the blood of their mothers. I also love the story of a young individual in that society wanting so desperately to get out of it, that they become a spy within. Unfortunately I don’t believe I am in the right mindset for this story at the moment. It’s cut throat, gruesome and dives right into the world. Trying to read this as an audiobook had me blanking out and not processing the world. I felt disconnected from the characters and world, and the dialogue came across cheesy in the audiobook. I definitely want to try and pick this up again soon, and maybe in paper format. Thank you NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sheena

    The cover: amazing. the synopsis: amazing. I mean come on. A magical cannibal nun cult? The execution however: not amazing. This was painfully boring for most of the book and I lost interest real quick but pushed myself through. I'm deeply disappointed. The character's don't have much distinction or personality and nothing interesting happens either. The cover: amazing. the synopsis: amazing. I mean come on. A magical cannibal nun cult? The execution however: not amazing. This was painfully boring for most of the book and I lost interest real quick but pushed myself through. I'm deeply disappointed. The character's don't have much distinction or personality and nothing interesting happens either.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Delara

    Gonna start off this review with a fun list of things that I loved about this book: * bi and lesbian nuns are in charge! * cannibalistic magic system * CATS YOU CAN RIDE * bi MC and queernorm-ish world (see below) * zombies! but call them Haunts * all Haunts are men, and they become that way if they have sex with a sister . * addresses body autonomy * there’s some sweet pining and longing Ok, I admit it, I quite enjoyed this book despite one glaring absence I’ll talk about in a sec. But first! Elfreda (El Gonna start off this review with a fun list of things that I loved about this book: * bi and lesbian nuns are in charge! * cannibalistic magic system * CATS YOU CAN RIDE * bi MC and queernorm-ish world (see below) * zombies! but call them Haunts * all Haunts are men, and they become that way if they have sex with a sister . * addresses body autonomy * there’s some sweet pining and longing Ok, I admit it, I quite enjoyed this book despite one glaring absence I’ll talk about in a sec. But first! Elfreda (El) is an acolyte with the Sisters of Aytrium, aka the government, and wielders of the magic called lace. In order to get said lace, the sisters must consume flesh and, needless to say, some folks aren’t impressed with how things are going. Neither is El—she knows her future is to give birth to a daughter who will, one day, consume her. So, what does she do to get out of it? Join a shadowy group to become their spy, of course! Cue: murder, deception, fancy parties!, bugs..., betrayal, CATS, cannibalism, and you know, dangerous plots and violence. The good stuff. Ok, now for the part I didn’t love. This is a feminist narrative that begets a queernormative world but…where are the trans people? How do they fit into this Very Binary society? The sisterhood? How will the disease effect them? This important conversation is conspicuously missing from the book's world-building which I can’t help thinking was a conscious choice. So keep that in mind whilst you read this unsettling tale of the corruption, resistance, and dare I say, even a little hope breaking through the blood-soaked dark. Thanks to the publisher for sending me the ARC!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    The nicest thing I can say about Star Eater is that the narrator was fantastic. The world building was absolutely a mess. I had no idea the city was floating in the sky until towards the end of the book. I never understood the magic system. And the without spoiling anything I will just say the built up drama had absolutely no pay off.

  28. 5 out of 5

    OutlawPoet

    Okay, I’ll admit it. This book confused my brain a little. You see, it’s not YA…but it reads like YA. Our MC is that YA everygirl. She’s THE ONE who will save everyone. She’s the strongest, the savviest, everyone’s crush. I mean…the only little difference is that some people want to eat her. There’s even a love triangle, though a bit modernized. Our main plot line – the thing that must be accomplished – also feels very YA. There’s a wee rape plot line that isn’t YA, but even that’s sort of adult-li Okay, I’ll admit it. This book confused my brain a little. You see, it’s not YA…but it reads like YA. Our MC is that YA everygirl. She’s THE ONE who will save everyone. She’s the strongest, the savviest, everyone’s crush. I mean…the only little difference is that some people want to eat her. There’s even a love triangle, though a bit modernized. Our main plot line – the thing that must be accomplished – also feels very YA. There’s a wee rape plot line that isn’t YA, but even that’s sort of adult-lite in the way it’s handled. It’s sad and hopeless, but never very edgy or adult. The world building itself isn’t badly done. The author slowly introduces us into a world that’s unique (what with all the people eating) and full of despair. The book was interesting enough to keep my attention. However, I think it’s a standalone and…I hope it stays that way. *ARC via Net Galley

  29. 5 out of 5

    Em

    A weird, wild, wonderful amalgam of fantasy and horror. Magic nuns who engage in ritual cannibalism! Sexually transmitted zombieism! Legit terrifying monsters! Intrigue! Murder! Public executions that don't take! Giant cats! Body horror! Chaotic bisexual disasters! Some truly harrowing mother/daughter relationship stuff! Kerstin Hall has a TERRIFYING brain and I love it very much, thanks. A weird, wild, wonderful amalgam of fantasy and horror. Magic nuns who engage in ritual cannibalism! Sexually transmitted zombieism! Legit terrifying monsters! Intrigue! Murder! Public executions that don't take! Giant cats! Body horror! Chaotic bisexual disasters! Some truly harrowing mother/daughter relationship stuff! Kerstin Hall has a TERRIFYING brain and I love it very much, thanks.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cait

    I spent the first half of this book dying of boredom and contemplating DNFing while shaking my head and telling myself that I should have known better a) after I took this off my to-read shelf the first time and b) when I started it and realized that the cover quote is from rory power (I thought wilder girls was pretty fucking bad) (I see that a different edition's quote comes from ann leckie, who I think must be very susceptible to flattery because everyone in this book "gestures" every little I spent the first half of this book dying of boredom and contemplating DNFing while shaking my head and telling myself that I should have known better a) after I took this off my to-read shelf the first time and b) when I started it and realized that the cover quote is from rory power (I thought wilder girls was pretty fucking bad) (I see that a different edition's quote comes from ann leckie, who I think must be very susceptible to flattery because everyone in this book "gestures" every little fucking thing for no apparent reason that is ever explained--maybe in hall's mind it was an important part of the worldbuilding to have a society that has a specific codified gesture for everything imaginable!!). however!!!! halfway through it really picked up for me. can I really 3-star a book when I only liked (and liked is a strong word) half of it? guess I am. two things to know if you're going to read this: 1. it is fucking YA. I know there's this whole thing of 🥺 adult fantasy written by women gets called ya for no reason!!! 🥺 but honestly HONESTLY this is fucking YA. I think kerstin hall suffered a delusion that she was writing an adult fantasy novel and nobody had the heart to tell her otherwise, but legit the only thing that makes this 'adult' is the age of the characters and the fact that they talk about sex in a different way than characters talk about sex in YA novels (there's not even any on-screen sex, it's just that it's kind of integral to the whole premise that the cannibal nuns turn dudes into zombies when they have sex with them). I REALLY think that this would do better with the YA crowd. like, set expectations to YA and I think you'll have a much better time with this. it's goofy, average, competently written YA in the vein of a chosen-one narrative with a slightly more batshit premise than usual. that's all! they even have YA names!!! elfreda and millie and finn, for starters, but also everyone else's names too. the narrator even sounded like a YA narrator! meaning not that she sounds like a teenager but that she has the same kind of voice as the narrators of YA novels. 2. I'm not sure what I was expecting from the zombie-making cannibal nuns book, but it...wasn't this. a biiiiiiiIIiIIg chunk of this is like, a bureaucratic whodunit???? I mean, SURE, I GUESS. I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU WOULDN'T HAVE MORE OF THE CANNIBALISM AND THE ZOMBIES AND THE WEIRD RELIGIOUS SHIT AS THOSE ARE CLEARLY THE INTERESTING ELEMENTS THAT YOU ARE USING TO DRAW READERS TO YOUR BOOK, BUT OKAY. didn't hate it. also don't think it was very good. lastly: elfreda's mom's skin color is described as "brown" in one instance and "bronze" in another; that cover is looking a little pale, no???

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