Published: March 16th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder Studio
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Literary Fiction, Dystopian Fiction
Welcome to my, slightly late, stop on the blog tour for this remarkable debut. Thank you to Niamh at Hodder Studio for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
No future, dear reader, can break a woman on its own
A bold and dazzling exploration of fate and female agency in a world where women own the future but not their own bodies.
Like every woman, Celeste Morton holds a map of the future in her skin, every mole and freckle a clue to unlocking what will come to pass. With puberty comes the changeling period – when her final marks will appear and her future is decided.
The possibilities are tantalising enough for Celeste’s excitement to outweigh her fear. Changelings are sought after commodities and abduction is rife as men seek to possess these futures for themselves.
Celeste’s marks have always been closely entwined with her brother, Miles. Her skin holds a future only he, as a gifted interpreter, can read and he has always considered his sister his practice ground. But when Celeste’s marks change she learns a devastating secret about her brother’s future that she must keep to herself – and Miles is keeping a secret of his own. When the lies of brother and sister collide, Celeste determines to create a future that is truly her own.
Body of Stars is an urgent read about what happens when women are objectified and violently stripped of choice – and what happens when they fight back.
“No future, dear reader, can break a woman on its own.”
What would it be like to know your future? To have the things that will happen to you and those you love mapped out on your body and be powerless to change it?
Body of Stars is a dazzling and luminous debut that is unlike anything I’ve read before. It is one of those books you know you’re going to love from the start; that seeps right into your soul and lingers long after you’ve finished reading. Exquisitely written with beautiful and almost melodic prose, the author cast a hypnotic spell with the captivating opening lines that lasts until the final pages. I savoured every word, eager to bathe in its splendour for as long as possible.
A multifaceted story about fate, choice, family, secrets, trauma and female agency, the author writes with truth and sensitivity as she examines timely, important issues such as male violence, rape culture, victim blaming, patriarchy and the toxicity they can breed. She also asks how women can empower themselves and come together to make a change, and looks at the positive and negative consequences of knowing your future.
“All we knew was that our lives were speckled in advance on our skin, as it had been for our mothers, as it was for our sisters, while our brothers and fathers were left in the dark.”
The girls in this world are born marked, but men aren’t. And men are jealous, eager to know their own fates. But despite being the ones with the future on their skin, the women aren’t the ones with the agency. Their bodies aren’t their own and from birth they are read and their markings recorded by government inspectors, they have to sign waivers permitting potential universities or employers access to these records, and upon becoming a changeling they must submit to a humiliating inspection by both their mother and father. And, as changelings, the females are so potent that everyone is drawn to them; the men in particular. Some of whom will do anything to possess them. But the men are seen as powerless against their changeling allure and it is the women who are held responsible for staying safe and not getting abducted. And if they are taken and ruined, the blame is placed solely at their feet. But this isn’t an anti-men book. It is a wider story about the problems of strict gender identities and roles, and we see Celeste’s brother Miles and her father also fall foul of their society’s strict rules and roles for men.
One of my favourite aspects of this book is that the author included excerpts and illustrations from Mapping the Future, the book used in her fictional world to interpret markings and predict their fates. The intricate detail was phenomenal and added to the sense of realism. There were definitely times I forgot this was all from the author’s wonderful imagination and I wasn’t reading about life in another country.
It is rare to read a book where you really have no idea what will happen next, and this was one of those books. I found myself reading in breathless anticipation, trying to piece together the clues she’d dropped like breadcrumbs about Celeste and Miles’ fate.
Mesmerising, soulful, unique and memorable, Body of Stars is an absolute tour de force. An easy five stars from me, I have no doubt this will be among my favourite books of the year. It is a book that resonates strongly and can’t recommend it highly enough. I am in awe that it is a debut novel and can’t wait to see what Ms. Walters writes next after such a phenomenal start.
TW: sexual assault, trauma
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Laura Maylene Walter is a writer and editor in Cleveland. Her debut novel, Body of Stars, is forthcoming from Dutton. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Poets & Writers, Kenyon Review, The Sun, The Master’s Review, Ninth Letter, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Southeast Review, Chicago Tribune‘s Printers Row, and many other publications.
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Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.
Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx