Beneath These Cursed Stars

HarperTeen. Jul. 2024. 432p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063311909.
Gr 9 Up–Princess Jasalyn has a magic ring that gives her influence over others and the kiss of death. Her only motivation is revenge against those who have wronged her, and using the ring she sneaks out at night to kill her enemies. When rumors of the evil King Mordeus’s return from the dead begin to make their way around the realm, Jasalyn knows she must do something to stop him once and for all. Felicity has a magical ability to take on the form of anyone she desires. Together they create a plan that Felicity takes Jasalyn’s place, so she is free to pursue the sword that has the power to take down Mordeus. The book is told in the dual perspectives of Jasalyn and Felicity. Ryan successfully shares the tribulations of characters, and their inner turmoil between right and wrong (including their romances) drives the narrative. There are no real main events in this book; it is all build-up for the next in the series. It is important to note that this is a spin-off from Ryan’s previous series “These Hollow Vows.” Although it is not necessary to read the other series first, those who have will be able to dive into this already established world more successfully and avoid some major spoilers. The interesting magic systems and political structures created are elaborated on in this novel.
VERDICT Those who enjoyed Ryan’s “These Hollow Vows” series will appreciate the start to this one, so long as they don’t mind waiting for the sequel for resolutions.

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