Published by Tor (10.31.2023)
Genres: Adult, Horror
Format: eARC, 400 pages
A contemporary gothic fairy tale about a small town haunted by the history it can't quite seem to bury and the canny, clever young woman who finds herself drawn to the house that sits at the crossroads of it all.
Starling House is odd and ugly and fully of secrets, just like its heir. Opal knows better than to mess with haunted houses or brooding men, but it might be a chance to get her brother out of Eden, and it feels dangerously like something she's never had: a home.
But she isn't the only one interested in the house, or the horrors and wonders that lie beneath it. If Opal wants a home, she'll have to fight for it. She'll have to dig up her family's dark past and let herself dream of a brighter future. She'll have to go down, down into Underland, and claw her way back to the light.
Starling House is the sweeping, romantic new novel from New York Times bestseller and Hugo Award-winner Alix E. Harrow.
This one started off extremely slow, and I was lamenting the fact that there will never be another Harrow book to rival The Ten Thousand Doors of January. I was actually considering possibly DNFing in the beginning. It took forever, but thankfully it picked up right around the 35% mark. And when it picked up, it picked up HARD!! If it weren’t for the extremely slow beginning, this absolutely would have been a 5 star book for me.
Anyway, from that point on, I was hooked!! I absolutely adored Starling House itself. It was sentient and had its own personality, and it was wonderful! I loved that it was sometimes petty and petulant toward Arthur, it cracked me up! It was adorable that it would rearrange itself for Opal, or do things to make her more comfortable. I need me a house like that haha!
I also adored hellcat and how the house seemed to love her as well! I love that she was super cranky, yet softened to Arthur; just like Arther softened to her as well! They were both prickly and broody, and the scenes where she’d be curled up in his lap melted my heart!
The romance between Opal and Arthur was super sweet and had that glorious slow burn that I love. It was also essentially enemies to lovers – they weren’t necessarily enemies, per se, but they definitely didn’t like each other much, or even want to be around each other in the beginning. It took almost the whole book to develop, and I love those kinds of romances! It also wasn’t overbearing – it took a backseat to the plot and action.
Harrow has a way of writing uncanny, atmospheric worlds. Her writing makes you want to crawl into the pages and live there! The world is eerie and dark, and the monsters were delightfully creepy. I loved the tale of Underland, and the Wardens of Starling House that stood bastion against its monsters. The air of mystery gave the story a driving intrigue, because you didn’t really know what was going on for a good chunk of the story. It kept me wanting more! I thoroughly enjoyed how the story played out, and the background of how Underland was born and the history of the House and the previous Wardens.
As soon as I finished this book, I already wanted to re-read it! I can’t wait until the audiobook comes out so I can listen for my second read! If this book isn’t on your radar, you should definitely pre-order it! Thank me later. ;)
Writing style: 4.5/5
Overall rating: 4.5/5