Nov 21, 2022

ARC Review--A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw


In this magical romance from the New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep, an 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, and Vega sees the fabled twin stars in 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 is rescued by a girl named Cricket who leads 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 set out across the plains in search of the cure the stars speak of. But as the lines between friend and protector begin to blur, Vega must decide whether to safeguard the sacred knowledge of the astronomer. Or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.


I received this ARC in a contest I won from the publisher. My review is completely honest and voluntary. I was in no way compensated for this review.


Shea Ernshaw's newest novel, A Wilderness of Stars was book of pure utter mystery and suspense! I adored Ernshaw's debut novel, The Wicked Deep and was excited to dive into her newest novel to see what mysteries I would uncover. The book is definitely mysterious, very, very mysterious in fact.

Vega is a teenage girl living in a secluded valley with her mother. When the book begins, Vega's mother is sick and dying. It's only a matter of time before she leaves this world and when she does, Vega knows what she must do. She's seen the signs in the sky that it's time for her to follow her destiny.

Vega lives in a world that is slowly dying. People are getting sick and there's no cure for them. Once they start showing the signs, people mark them for dead. But Vega believes that if she follows the path to the stars in the sky, all the answers will be found. But the world she lives in is also dangerous. While they are people getting sick and dying, there is also a group of extremists known as Theorists who believe that they can find the cure for the sickness infecting everyone. They believe that Vega is the key to finding that cure and will do whatever is necessary to find that cure.

Vega meets up with a strange boy and girl named Noah and Cricket who promise to help her find the stars and whatever will await her there. But the world is a dangerous place and it's hard to know who to trust. That goes for Vega and her new friends as well. Are they really helping her? Or are they planning her demise for their own benefit?

This book was rather strange to be honest. I understand the need to keep things mysterious to a certain level, but at the same time, I felt unsure of what sort of world we were living in. Obviously, a bad one where a disease runs rampant and there's as struggle to find a cure. In some ways, this story reminded me of the M. Night Shyamalan's The Village. You know where we think things are one way, until the very end and THEN BAM! was and wasn't that. I mean things are never really clear as to when we are. To me, that can be very integral to the story itself as well and after finishing it...I'm still not sure of the when or if there was one. It was that puzzling.

There was a bit of star-crossed romance between Vega and Noah. I was worried for a little bit if there was going to be some sort of love triangle or conflict with Cricket in the picture as well...but thankfully, there wasn't really an issue that arose from that. What transpired between Vega and Noah was a sweet, sort of gradual romance. I mean, we kind of suspect it from the description about the book, but I wasn't sure of any conflicts that might arise from it. 

This book was positively shrouded with mystery! What is this sickness? What is Vega's ability? What is she destined to do? What the heck is going on with this world? So, so many questions! I feel like that's part of the mystery too. What became even more confounding was the ending! Just when you think things are headed towards a resolution we get bombarded with several plot twists! All in the end, the final moments of the book! It's unclear at this point of my reading the book if this is meant to be a standalone or more. I mean, the literal last words of the novel can be interpreted in either direction and that makes me even more frustrated! Lol. Not a bad kind, but it's the pain of reading a book early, you don't always know if there's more in store or not.

My only issue comes with what would be next then? The plot here was very much driven just by the need to get Vega to the point of where the stars lied. They encounter enemies, hurdles, and obstacles galore along the way and then when she finally reaches her destination we get a whopper of an ending. I honestly, just don't know what to make of it. In some respect, I feel like I was led on this long winding journey with very little to come out of it in the end. So perhaps there will be more, but again, I ask, but what...?

A Wilderness of Stars was definitely a puzzling read! It would definitely make for a twisted M. Night Shyamalan movie that's for sure! While the pacing might lag a bit in some areas, and the world-building left a lot to be determined--but I feel like that was done by design--the strange and utter mysteriousness of this book was what had me turning the pages until the very end! It was an atmospheric kind of read with a sweet budding romance and moments of action that left me positively breathless! It's definitely a head-scratcher of a read, but somehow works too.

Overall Rating 3.5/5 stars

A Wilderness of Stars releases November 29, 2022

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