The City Beyond the Stars

The City Beyond the Stars
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Release Date
May 14, 2024
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Yara may have stopped the magical plague spreading its way through her new home, but to do so, she had to leave her mother in the hands of the sinister alchemists.

Now Yara longs to return to Zehaira and free her mother from her prison. Yet when her mother’s familiar arrives, close to death and bearing a message, Yara must put aside her plans to rescue her and instead set off with her friends to the official residence of the Grand High Sorceress, convinced it holds magic powerful enough to defeat the alchemists.

After a treacherous journey, Yara finds her mother’s house, and in it, a girl claiming to be the daughter of the Grand High Sorceress—a sister Yara didn’t know she had. Meanwhile, the alchemists are circling ever closer, and the magic that Yara’s mother was working threatens the foundations of their world.

Yara is unsure if her newfound sister can be trusted, but she is going to need all the help she can get if she wants to save their mother and take back Zehaira from the alchemists’ rule.

Editor review

1 review
There's power within stories
(Updated: May 14, 2024)
Overall rating
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What worked:
Yara is determined to save her mother, The Grand High Sorceress, and she’s angry that no one is trying to rescue her from imprisonment. Yara knows it will be dangerous to leave the boundary of her settlement since it’s concealed by enchantments. However, she learns that her mother is researching a new kind of magic that might be used to stop the alchemists. It might also have devastating effects on the world. Yara’s quest to uncover her mother’s discoveries will lead readers on an adventure through magical protections and hidden worlds.
The setting has a Middle Eastern flair to it that includes elements related to the Persian stories of Shahrazad and the Arabian Nights. Characters can travel about on flying carpets and Yara is accompanied by a magical jinn that takes the form of a goat. Females wear long robes called qamis while turbans or wraps adorn their heads. Stories hold power and one tale references a girl avoiding death by telling an enchanting tale each day, reminiscent of Shahrazad’s strategy to save herself from execution. Former bedtime stories hold unknown magic but original narratives can be used to destroy or kill.
An intriguing part of the book is Yara’s relationship with Aaliya. The two young girls are surprised to find out they’re sisters but Aaliya is especially angry about this news. She’s been calling herself the new Grand High Sorceress since her mother’s disappearance and it’s hard to accept that she’s no longer the only daughter. As the older sister, she still feels some level of superiority over Yara. Yara’s more open to having a sibling but that doesn’t help to change Aaliya’s feelings. Yara has empathy for her sister and she’s mostly able to navigate the turbulent swirl of emotions. Their evolving relationship is a highlight for readers and surprises await during the plot’s climax.
What didn’t work as well:
The early part of the book recounts events from the previous one but readers may want to know more. Apparently, Yara was living with a guardian and didn’t know anything about being the daughter of The Grand High Sorceress. Somewhere along the way she was given her mother’s powers but she’s unable to wield any magic in this book. As always, the easiest way to answer any questions about the backstory is to read the first book!
The final verdict:
The plot presents an innovative twist to the power of storytelling and the complications of discovering the existence of a new sibling. The ongoing conflict in the series pits alchemists against sorcerers and it’s displaced many citizens while others live in anger and fear. Overall, I recommend you give the book a shot.
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