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Kids Fiction 3715
A Story that Shines
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In Marissa Burt's latest novel, she creates an original new world full of magic and adventure. Wren Matthews is the smartest person she knows. She's highly competitive and, according to her parents, not very social. She loves astronomy and learning. She's in the middle of taking a test when she sees something highly unusual. A woman that commands glittering blue swirls, and a falcon flying around the room. She tries to rationalize, but another boy named Simon sees it, too. They've seen the stardust, and the mysterious woman is called Mary. Mary is a Fiddler, an ancient order of Alchemists who can "play" magic by using old Mother Goose rhymes. Wren and Simon are chosen to become Apprentice Fiddlers and thrust into a new world of magic and secrets.

What I loved:
Wren identifies herself as being "brown all over." Brown hair, brown eyes, brown skin. It's important to see novels with diverse representation, especially as the protagonist who kicks butt. Wren is smart, precocious, and looks at the world with keen eyes. As she learns to play the stardust, she doesn't get it right away. It's frustrating for her because she's so good at everything back home, but at the Crooked House (home of all the Fiddlers and their research), she has to work extra hard. She's resilient and doesn't give up.

Burt creates an entirely new world to explore. Wren, Simmon, and Jack are three apprentices found by Mary in "the wild." That is opposed to the ones who were born in the Crooked House. The Fiddlers consider themselves Alchemists. They learn new ways of uncovering the uses of stardust. Stardust, of course. comes from meteorites that have fallen to earth. I love the mix of light science with history, nursery rhymes, and magic. In order to use the stardust, the Fiddler must "play" and sing a rhyme. It's a brilliant use of old time favorites.

Wren, Simmon, and Jack are in the Crooked house trying to uncover a mysterious plot. The Fiddlers had a civil war long ago, and the leader of that war (who would abuse the stardust for his own power) is thought to be returning. He's called Boggen, but he remains as a shadow that the young Fiddlers have to work around.

I loved the use of falconry and wish I had my own falcon to ride. One of my favorite scenes was when the kids were getting transported by falcon through the aurora borealis.

There's a twist at the end, and a betrayal that Wren does not see coming. Still, Burt never makes Wren into someone who seeks revenge. She's still caring, and willing to risk herself for her friends and the new world she's become a part of.

What left me wanting:
The ending felt a tad rushed. I was disappointed when I turned the page and there was not another chapter waiting for me to wrap up the end. But not to worry, there will be a sequel. A Legend of Starfire is slated for 2016!

Verdict: A Sliver of Stardust is an incredibly original fantasy that weaves the old and the new for a thrilling magical ride.
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