I love how certain authors are able to reach down deep inside you with words and pull all sorts of emotions to the surface. Diana Peterfreund is one of those authors – whether she is writing about killer unicorns, college, or a distant future she’s got this magical skill where her prose evokes all these feelings out of me. Y’all, chalk Across A Star-Swept Sea as another of Peterfreund’s successes. Companion to For Darkness Shows The Stars, this novel was a pure delight to read, although there were some scenes where I was feeling all of the angst. Despite those scenes, I closed the book with a huge and dorky smile much like For Darkness Shows The Stars. Obviously this review will draw a comparison between the two, but I will layout first before you read anything else that the two books perfectly compliment each other.
Across A Star-Swept Sea is a science fiction retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel. However, as I have never read The Scarlet Pimpernel I am unable to speak to how accurate of a retelling it is. Instead, I guess I’ll have to judge the book on it’s own merits rather than in comparison to the original. The star of Across A Star-Swept Sea is a young aristo named Persis. By day, Persis is a vain, silly aristo whose name is all over the gossip magazines. She is best friends with Princess Isla who came into her role as monarch completely unexpectedly. By night, Persis masquerades as the Wild Poppy, a spy who sneaks over to Galatea and engages in acts of rebellion against the revolutionaries. Okay, and I know I am being confusing because you are probably like what the heck is Galatea. So let me start over. Persis lives in an area of the world called New Pacifica, which is basically a chain of islands. There are two countries in New Pacifica – Albion and Galatea. Albion is ruled by a monarchy but also has a council. Galatea was ruled by a queen until the regs overthrew her in a revolution.
Now, the regs of Galatea are giving the former aristos drugs to turn them Reduced. Y’all remember the whole Reduction thing from For Darkness Shows The Stars? Well, in this book, a cure has been found for the Reduction and so it has been virtually eradicated. Which brings me to my next point of discussing the plot so you have your groundings. One of the characters, a Galatean named Justen Helo finds asylum in Albion. Persis is tasked by Isla to fake a relationship with Justen. This is a huge deal because Justen cames from a big name family, his grandmother invented the cure for the Reduction. And so, you guys, Across A Star-Swept Sea has a plot that is fraught with politics, strife and espionage. Basically the plot is incredibly exciting and would be a page-turner even if it did not have a romance.
Obviously Diana Peterfreund knows how to write the sort of heroines I like. Y’all, Persis is WAY different from Elliot. She’s brilliant, yes, but she has to hide it. You know, sometimes being underestimated can be used as an advantage and that’s what Persis is hoping for. So, she comes across as really flighty and concerned with superficial things. I think mileage might vary for your enjoyment of Persis. For me, though, I thought she was genius. I loved how she was willing to fight for her convictions, even when it put her in danger. I loved that there is a scene where Persis is wrong and she totally learns the error of her ways in a fashion that’s utterly pivotal to character development. Sigh, you guys, I would totally drink kiwine with Persis in real life, that is how cool she is.
Occasionally, Persis shares the spotlight with Justen Helo. I think many of you are going to open this book and be like – I signed up for a romance and you would be correct. As a romantic figure, Helo sure does have a lot of missteps. He’s one that falls for Persis’s act. He holds back information. He holds back his feelings. He is much more concerned with other things beyond finding love. Yet, he’s someone I can respect. As a youth, instead of wasting his days at parties, he is super busy trying to correct his past mistakes that still haunt Galatea. He basically holds his cards close to the chest, but trust you’ll be as won over by him as I was.
Across A Star Swept Sea inhabits the same world as For Darkness Shows The Stars. Like, there’s still the Reduction and all. Only, this takes place in a totally different part of the world. Instead of the people rejecting technology and innovation, they embrace it. The residents of New Pacifica enjoy genetically modifying the DNA of their pets (Slipstream, ILY ALWAYS) and use these methods of communication called Flutternotes which are kind of like telepathy. Y’all, this book is just so inventive and magical and so different from it’s predecessor. Even though it’s set in the same time and space, it’s unique and I felt like there was more to discover. Basically, the people in this book lead entirely different sorts of lives. What I did like though, was that there was still class struggle between people considered to be aristos and those considered to be regular, or regs.
Remember the romance and how it was front and center in For Darkness Shows The Stars? Well, it is not quite front and center in Across A Star-Swept Sea. Don’t fret though, because there will be kissing, I promise, and it will be totally worth all of your dog ears. The romance is totally a will they-won’t they with a nice and slow development with revelations and all. Although you can see the end game coming, it’s truly enchanting to see exactly how the journey plays out.
Let me tell you right now, initially I was not sure if I would be able to like this book as much as it’s companion because it starts off pretty confusing. It has been pretty much a year since I read For Darkness Shows The Stars and so, I was completely confused on a lot of things. Not everything is explained up front, basically you are kind of dropped into the world. If you are not a patient reader, than chances are you might feel tempted to give up. Don’t do that. Across A Star-Swept Sea contains multitudes, is probably the best way to describe this book. There’s so much inside it that is wonderful and worth your initial what the what is going on, so just relax and trust in Persis.
Disclosure: Review Copy Provided by Publisher