Light From Uncommon Stars

hardcover, 368 pages

Published Sept. 27, 2021 by Tor Books.

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4 stars (6 reviews)

Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in this defiantly joyful adventure set in California's San Gabriel Valley, with cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-made donuts.

Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.

When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka's ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She's found her final candidate.

But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn't have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan's kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul's worth. And maybe something …

3 editions


5 stars

A book driven by its characters. I think it would be hard not to empathise with Katrina. The momentum keeps going and you want it to keep going for the characters. Leap of faith in the storyline, no problem, I want this to happen for them.

Written with the narrators view it was able to weave the stories of several people together, but with a strong emphasis on a couple of characters. The narration was also used to skip some of the exacting detail about Katrina's early life while explaining it. For sure a content warning for some of that though.

I loved it, but...

5 stars

I can't remember the last time I read a novel that I felt so much. I love the characters, particularly the three central women, I love the story, wild though it is, I love the descriptions, and I love the ending. I felt invested in the characters' lives, particularly Katrina's, in a way I rarely do.

I'm not sure I can unequivocally recommend it, though. Ryka Aoki doesn't shy away from showing how hard Katrina's life is. The first few chapters are particularly tough going, but even when things pick up for her, it's still not all beer and skittles. Not sure I could provide a definitive list of CWs, but transphobia and sexual assault would have to be in there.

"You’re a selfish little thing, aren’t you?”

3 stars

Content warning Very poor ending; selling souls to hell does pay!

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rated it

4 stars