AUTHOR: Georgia Summers

GENRE: Fantasy [Portal]

AGE: Adult


A young woman descends into a seductive magical underworld of power-hungry scholars, fickle gods and monsters bent on revenge to break her family’s curse in this spellbinding contemporary fantasy debut.

For centuries, generations of Everlys have seen their brightest and best disappear, taken as punishment for a crime no one remembers, for a purpose no one understands. Their tormentor, a woman named Penelope, never ages, never grows sick – and never forgives a debt.

Violet Everly was just a child when her mother Marianne vanished on a stormy night, determined to break the curse. And when Penelope cannot find her, she issues an Violet has ten years to find Marianne, or she will take her place. Violet is the last of the Everly line, the last to suffer from the curse. Unless she can break it first.

To do so, she must descend into a seductive magical underworld of power-hungry scholars, fickle gods and monsters bent on revenge. She must also contend with Penelope’s quiet assistant, Aleksander, who she knows cannot be trusted – and yet whose knowledge of a world beyond her own is too valuable to avoid.

Tied to a very literal deadline, Violet will travel the edges of the world to find Marianne and the key to the city of stardust, where the Everly story began.

Thank you to Redhook/Orbit for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

She believes in curses like she believes in stories. For a curse is just another kind of story, dark and toothy and razor-edged.

The comp titles for this book are “Ten Thousand Doors of January” and “The Starless Sea” and those comps definitely ring true for this book. It was nothing like I expected — but in a good way. This book takes place over the course of years, and Violet is our protaganist who is cursed. She is resolved to break the family curse. I absolutely love generational stories tied to curses, they can be so interesting. The City of Stardust did this very well.

For anyone curious I definitely would call it a portal fantasy, as it takes place in both our world and in another world. This to me read so much like an “adult” Narnia in that a girl wants to go on an adventure in another world. It definitely had that quality to it, dark, yet whimsical at the same time. It’s a bit hard to explain. I loved the narrative of the 
”alternate” and “portal” worlds as mentioned in this book, and I definitely wanted to see more of them than we got!

The plot kept me involved all the way through the book, I was bespelled by it, and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. But the romance in this book also was well done despite it not being a main focus. It was a well written book, it felt so lyrical (think Laini Taylor almost) and beautifully written you can’t help but be drawn into the book. The main themes of this book revolved around family, empathy and betrayal for the most part, so it was interesting to see how they played out in the longterm.

There were a few sections of the book that left me open mouthed — but in a good way.

I’m definitely interested to see if the author brings us more from this world, I kind of want to see what some of the other characters are up to as well!

What does she believe? The fairy tale of the hero, or the monster?