Review Detail

A Star Turn
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Darleen comes from a long line of entertainers; her father and his siblings are all part of Matchless Studios, a silent film concern trying to stay in business in 1914. Darleen has gone from being "darling" as a child film star to being "daring" in her tween years, and is the star of a serial in which she is a princess trying to find her father. In order to drum up more interest, and perhaps make more money, her aunt comes up with a great idea: film Darleen being kidnapped at the opening of a new theater, so fans can read about the "real life" episode in the paper. On the night of the event, Darleen is ready, but ends up in the wrong car... with the subject of an actual kidnapping. Victorine Berryman is the orphan heiress of a railroad fortune. Her only relatives, the Brownstones, are cruel to her, so once she and Darleen escape, she is loathe to turn herself in. Both kidnappings seem to be tied together through one particularly unpleasant actor, and the girls try to figure out the mystery. Along the way, they get involved in lots of escapades, including going up in a hot air balloon. They also meet Madame Blanche, the owner of rival Solax studios, who helps the girls figure out the problem with Victorine's inheritance, and encourages them to continue their work in film.
Good Points
The early 1900s are ripe for all manner of interesting historical fiction, and there's very little that I've come across. The early days of motion pictures is a great place to start! The alliance of the two girls from different backgrounds is charming, and I enjoyed Victorine's plight as the "poor little rich girl", ala Gloria Vanderbilt.

The format is rather brilliant-- the font is very vintage, but still large and easy to read. The chapter headings are reminiscent of early screen dialog cards, and the cover shows the sort of outfit in which Darleen has her adventures, which will seem odd to children who wear nothing but athletic gear!

There is plenty of action and adventure, and I could practically envision the villains twirling handlebar mustaches while flinging capes around. The fact that Darleen dangles over cliffs and has adventures makes it even better.

Readers who love historical fiction will enjoy this look into the Hollywood of the past. Like Tubb's Selling Hope (2011), Cheaney's I Don't Know How the Story Ends,(2015)or Fleming's Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen (2018) this another is fascinating foray into early films.
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