StarCrossed by Elizabeth C Bunce
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2010
First in series (Sequel to be called Liar's Moon, probably out later this year)
I enjoyed Bunce's A Curse Dark as Gold so I knew that I'd want to read this book by her. I didn't know know anything about the story going in, beyond what's on the book flap so I was caught by surprise about everything. It starts with Digger running from a bad situation and she falls in with a group of young nobles who rescue her and bring her home. The two men in the party leave the story but the two women Lady Merista Nemair and Phandre continue as the family of the former welcomes Digger, now known as Celyn, to go to their estate to prepare for Merista's entrance into adulthood. This part was somewhat confusing and slow as many characters were introduced but nothing really happened.
It was at the estate that the story kicks in to gear. Digger attempts to steal an item from Lord Daul but he catches her and makes her become his informant so he can spy on the people at the estate, who incidentally were all collaborators in a rebellion against the king to restore some freedom of religion. As Digger searches for secrets, she finds much more than she had bargained for and the sequel is perfectly set up.
One of the most interesting aspects to me was the history, politics, and religion of the land. The current king outlawed anything but Celys for worship, especially the magic of Sarists. He also has two nephews who could be heir. One is even more extreme and fanatical while the other is more tolerant and is the hope of the Nemairs and other Sarists. While I found it fascinating, there were some difficult parts as I struggled to follow the names and relationships of everyone-there are a lot of characters but by the end, I knew them.
I also liked that there was very little romance. Digger/Celyn did have feelings for Tegen, a mysterious shadow in her past about whom I want to know more and there were some other relationships but romance was not the main focus, allowing me to focus fully on the mystery. Lord Daul wants Digger to uncover many secrets and bring him a lot of information; because of that experience, she leaves her professional shell behind and begins to become attached to people and to become concerned with politics. She becomes more of a hero instead of a creeping thief, a pleasant transformation to see.
Overall: Rich world created, lovable main character, and an engaging mystery!
Cover: This picture is a little blurry but I like the design-that is a seven-pointed star which is important to the story. While that girl is pretty, she's not gorgeous and thus is less likely to be noticed suiting Digger's profession.