Starling by Lesley Livingston was a pleasant surprise for more than one reason. Back in September, I happened to see a copy of it on display at my local bookstore. I hadn't even heard of it at that point, so I was more than happy to pick it up and add it to my TBR list. I'm very glad I did.
Starling reminds me of Percy Jackson morphed with Thor, while still being very much its own story—thanks to a female main character and more kissing. Not a bad thing. The plot largely surrounds Norse mythology, although there’s a sprinkling of Greek, Egyptian and Celtic myth as well.
There was a fair amount of action, but more than anything this first installment sets the stage for the unfolding Starling Saga. Mason Starling begins the story oblivious to the existence of the gods and mythological creatures or any connection of her family to that realm. Book one gradually reveals pieces of information about this, while spending the bulk of its time on the relationship between Mason and her new “friend” Fennrys as they try to figure out who he is.
Of course, what would a book involving mythology be without a cryptic prophecy about the end of the world? Naturally, Mason is tied to the prophecy, though she’s unaware of this, which makes her involvement all the more dangerous.
Mason is a likeable main character, not too girly and not too tough. Her training as a competitive fencer translates into some pretty decent skills with a sword. She can hold her own, yet the author doesn’t push the limits of believability by turning her into some kickass heroine out of the blue. Sure she slips into a battle frenzy once or twice, but she’s still vulnerable enough to occasionally require the protection of the love interest. Call me old-fashioned, but I like it when the mc has just a smidge of the damsel in distress in her. The fact that she has claustrophobia also makes for some tricky scenarios, and rather than being one of those “flaws” authors give their characters to avoid Mary Sue classification, Mason’s condition actually does play into the plot and character development—quite cleverly I thought.
The love interest, Fennrys Wolf or more precisely, the Fennrys Wolf makes a rather eyebrow-raising entrance into the story. I’ll let you read those “bits” for yourself (pun intended). No one, including him, knows who or what he is. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding his character. His memory loss makes him a bit of a Jason Bourne, remembering how to fight but really nothing else. I’m very curious to discover more about his role in the plot and what the future (if there is one) will or won’t hold for him and Mason.
Some of the other characters, though not gods themselves, can be slotted into similar roles. Not too hard to figure out that if you rearrange the letters in Roth (Mason’s older brother) you get the name of a certain hammer toting god. That’s all I’m going to say about that, because I don’t want to give away what’s at play behind the scenes in the Starling clan. I can see the plot thickening in this series with politics and alliances between the various mythological groups involved. It will be interesting to see which side some of the characters end up on.
I thought the end of Starling really delivered in terms of action and suspense. Knowing what could be ahead for Mason makes me worried. It seems likely that both she and Fennrys will be used as pawns in whatever perilous game the gods are playing and I’m invested enough in their characters that I really want to find out what happens to them. That being said, I’m definitely looking forward to book two in the Starling Saga and would recommend it as an exciting and enjoyable read.