Friday, 4 December 2015

Starlight, by William Stacey - Book Review

Starlight, by William Stacey
Dark Elf War, Book 1
Published By:  Bastard Sword Press, August 20, 2015
Pages:   PDF 529
Genre:  YA, Fantasy, Urban, Military
Source:  Author

A secret power. The revival of magic. An ancient evil stirs.

Twenty-year-old university dropout Cassie Rogan has returned to her small British Columbia home. Tortured by an accident that killed her parents, she drifts, failing life at every turn. When an impossibly localized lightning storm hits the surrounding forest, Cassie discovers her supernatural side.

After centuries of atrophy, the forces of magic are flowing back into our world, and Cassie can wield arcane powers. Her life seems destined to turn around, until the downside of magic brings everything to a screeching halt. Horrifying mythical beasts now prowl the northern wilderness—including the Basilisk—an enormous eight-legged lizard that can turn its prey to stone.

Recruited by a secretive agency, Cassie must quickly master her powers to protect mankind. As she develops her skills, a dark power secretly watches from the shadows. The Fae Seelie (a.k.a. the Dark Elves)—humanity's ancient enemy—have returned to settle the score.

Starlight is the first book in the Dark Elf War series, an epic urban fantasy and coming of age series that features fast-paced action, mysterious creatures, careful world-building, and breathless pacing. Author William Stacey is a 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist.
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Starlight is an action forward, well written tale of troubled youth finding their way via military special Task Force Devil that both enables their unique abilities and brings them to Faerum, a magical land. The author weaves extensive military knowledge expertly into a journey to a fae world, then criss-crossing back with Maelhrandia, a dark elf of the royal line, and her dangerous, magical creatures back to earth.

I thought Cassie a great female lead protagonist. She’s troubled and can’t find her way in the beginning, but then hits her stride as she becomes involved in the black ops program Task Force Devil. I admire Cassie’s toughness, and that she knows her own mind. She eventually agrees to travel to Faerum with the task force as the basilisk killed her sister in our world and she is seeking justice.

Supporting characters are well hashed out, and I especially liked the evangelical Elizabeth as a foil to Cassie, bringing events a curious, alternative perspective. It’s interesting that Elizabeth is portrayed as powerful in her own right and cannot be just dismissed as a religious nut job. All the characters are well thought out and each has their good and bad.

The author’s military knowledge is apparent right away and we are given great descriptions of high-tech weapons and military equipment throughout. Tracking scenes are well thought and played out. This is more of an adventure/YA military ops read with overtones of Fae Seelie, Amerind lore, and a bad-ass monster basilisk.

Starlight is a long book and I was getting combat reading fatigue by about page 360 though it’s well written and kept me engaged all the way through. I think for the general, or YA/fantasy reader the long tracking scenes could be lessened without diminishing the book.

I liked learning about the use of mana, or how the sensitives tuned into the ambient energy around them, drew it in and then used it as their growing supernatural abilities allow. I was also interested in Maelhrandia, 12th in line to the Fae Seelie throne. I would have liked to spend more time in Faerum but think that will be coming up in future books.

The Canadiana was a treat as I don’t usually read Canadian-themed novels.

Starlight is a great action novel that approaches a magical fae world from a militaristic perspective. I found myself rooting for the human side of course but wondered about the combative take to the story. I would probably give Starlight 5 stars for all of its merits but I’m not big on military. If you are, you'll love this book. 4.5 Stars!

My thanks to the author for a reading copy for the purposes of an unbiased review. I was unable to access his author website at this time, but you will find William Stacey on the web at the links below. He is also the author of Monastery, a fantasy/horror.

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