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Starling

by Lesley Livingston

A modern spin on ancient mythology – a mix of Norse, Greek, and Egyptian – is at the centre of the latest supernatural offering from Toronto writer Lesley Livingston. In the first book of a forthcoming series, Mason Starling is a bold, raven-haired teenager with dreams of winning the national fencing championship at her elite New York City high school. But when a freak storm unleashes a swarm of otherworldly creatures and a fierce, handsome young fighter appears out of nowhere to save the day, Mason’s whole life is turned around – suddenly, she finds her fencing skills coming in handy for more than just competitions.

Inexplicably, the stranger who saved Mason remembers very little about his past other than his name: Fennrys Wolf (a character fans will recognize from Livingston’s Wondrous Strange trilogy). The instant connection between Fenn and Mason is undeniable. As they work to uncover his identity, Mason discovers some dark secrets about her own family’s connections to Norse mythology and a foreboding prophecy.

Starling introduces a cast of complex, intriguing characters who change and grow in satisfying ways: there’s Calum, the crush-worthy fellow fencer torn between his jealousy of Fenn and his desire to do what’s best for Mason; Heather, the initially cold classmate who proves herself a dependable friend; and Mason’s older brothers, Rory and Roth, whose concept of family loyalty plays out in unexpected ways.

There are certain overwrought clichés at play here, which are seemingly impossible to avoid in the booming supernatural YA genre: once again, we have a teetering love triangle, an absent parent, and a gutsy heroine with a special skill. But by building mythology into an accessible, modern-day story, Livingston sets her book apart. Memorable characters and a plot replete with some staggering acts of loyalty and betrayal will have fans eagerly awaiting the next instalment.