G R Matthews
Starborn by Lucy Hounsom (200 Review)
There are many sub-genres in Fantasy. In seeming ascendency at present is ‘Grimdark’ and thankfully Lucy Hounsom’s Starborn does not fit into that definition*. Yes, there is darkness, people who are out for themselves, betrayal, hidden desires and death, but it is not dark. There is hope, light and our heroes are motivated by larger causes. Reading this book was a breath of fresh air, a return to a brighter, heroic tale.
The magic system is central to the story. The mages of old, now vanished, gathered their power from the light of the sun or moon, never both. Above it all, the mythical beings of the Starborn – more Gods than people. An ancient battle forms the background to a world being torn apart by gigantic storms.
Within the twists, turns and revelations is a coming of age tale. Lucy Hounsom’s prose makes us care about her characters and the heroine. From the dramatic beginning to the end, and set up for the next in the series, we share the female lead’s sense of dislocation, her struggles to understand a world that seems to have much wrong with it. In the end, we find out why.
Do yourself a favour, read it!
* I am very aware that a definition of Grimdark is hard to come by and even harder to agree. I’ve listened to Mark Lawrence, Peter Newman, Joe Abercrombie, Myke Cole, Peter V Brett all try to define and all, very politely and respectfully, not come to an agreement.