Review: STARLESS by Jacqueline Carey

Queer Young Adult Fantasy



I was nine years old the first time I tried to kill a man…

Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.


Anyone who knows me even a little knows that I adore Ms. Carey’s writing. There’s something about her voice and the stories she tells that just make my soul happy. I honestly didn’t even check to see the age range on this title, because it was Jacqueline Carey’s newest. Despite me not reading a lot of YA, (because I usually don’t connect to it) I tore through STARLESS in a couple of days.

It grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let me go until I’d finished the story. Now, I’m going to squee over a few things that if you don’t know they’re in there, could potentially spoil a readers enjoyment, so fair warning… THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD!

Got it? Good.

THE MAIN CHARACTER IS NON-BINARY. OMFG I shouted out loud when I read about a Young Adult Non-binary character, one who gets asked their pronouns ON PAGE… I loved it so much. It was awesome. Oh, and the love interest is a disabled princess. WHO DOESN’T GET A MIRACLE CURE BY THE END BUT SHE STILL GOES ON ADVENTURES!!!!

This book is so important, in that understated, elegant way Ms. Carey always manages to put forth. I highly recommend that if you like dark fantasy or queer YA you get yourself to the library or bookstore and get a hold of this book. If you like Ms. Carey’s voice (she’s a lot like me, you either love it or hate it) you won’t be sorry I steered you to this title.

It’s just so fantastic. My ONLY bitch about the book is that there was an unnecessary companion animal death. I’m really very much over the deaths of innocent, brave companion animals in fantasy. It’s gotta stop cause I’m so fed up with it that I just don’t even want to touch it anymore.

The book still rates a 5 star from me, but damn, I really wish the critter hadn’t died. It wasn’t needed and it made me so sad/mad that if it hadn’t been Ms. Carey’s work I might have DNFd the book.


READABILITY: 5/5 kept me up well past my bedtime two nights running and I lay by the pool reading instead of swimming. It’s really very well written and plotted out.

ARCS: 5/5 everything is exactly where it should be, and the plot twists were stunningly well crafted. I didn’t see them coming and I’m pretty good at guessing where an author is likely to take me these days.

CRAFT: 5/5 As usual with Ms. Carey’s work, it was a simple pleasure to read. My editor brain slept through the whole book. I think I caught maybe one error through the whole novel.




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