Star Eater by Kerstin Hall is a book that grabbed me by the hook pitched on social media: cannibal nuns. I expected it to be unlike anything else I’d ever read. And wow, did it deliver on that–but in none of the ways I expected.
Publisher: Tor | Release Date: June 2021 | Pages: 448
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Fantasy | Format: Hardcover | Source: Bought
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.
On the Page
- Body modifications
- Dead bodies and body parts
- Death of a friend
- Involuntary pregnancy
- Medical experimentation (of Haunts?)
- Murder and attempted murder
- Nightmares and night terrors
- Physical injuries and wounds
- Possession and mind control
- Burning alive
Content warnings are written up by me, unless specified. Subject to being an incomplete list, though guided by referencing this list and trying to highlight as many as I can identify.
- Worldbuilding: This was my absolute favorite part of this book. As a writer, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the world that was created here. It was dark, it was morbid, it was, in some ways, grotesque, yet I couldn’t look away.
- Elfreda: I loved her as a main character. It’s hard to describe her, but she had a fragile fierceness to her that I really appreciated; and feel is the only possible way she could have survived what was in store for her.
- The stakes and secondary players: The stakes were fleshed out (er, sorry to create a pun available for this book only, oops) and easy to follow, but wow did they just continue to build and build. I also really loved many of our secondary characters who supported Elfreda. (Though, there were plenty of people to loathe, as well, don’t worry.)
- THE ENDING: Now, it’s really important to me that I don’t spoil anything in this review, so I have to be purposefully vague for this point. But, I wasn’t lying when I said the stakes were clear. Even if I disagreed with some of Elfreda’s choices, I understood why she was making them, all the way up to the end. Then, as I was nearing the final pages, I started to panic a bit. There was no way to wrap up everything that needed to be wrapped up in a handful of pages. And I was right. Not only did we jump to an epilogue that left me feeling a little lost as to how we got there, but it all felt too rushed. I feel a bit robbed it wasn’t given the time it deserved, to be honest.
For me, Star Eater was so close to a five star read. It’s the ending the continues to eat at me. Perhaps I’m not smart enough to understand it. Or, perhaps I shouldn’t have read a book with an ending that isn’t clear on how exactly we got from the last chapter to epilogue while dealing with COVID. Regardless, I’d still recommend this book if you’re looking for something utterly different, in ways both fascinating and disturbing. Please head the content warnings.