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Review: The Star-spun Web by Sinéad O’Hart

With her passion for scientific experimentation and her pet tarantula Violet, Tess de 41960766Sousa is no ordinary orphan. When a stranger shows up at Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings, claiming to be a distant relative come to adopt her, Tess hopes to find some answers to her mysterious origins. But as she adjusts to her new life at Roedeer Lodge, it becomes clear that Norton F. Cleat knows more about Tess – and the strange star-shaped device left with her when she was abandoned as a baby – than he’s letting on. And when Tess discovers that the Starspinner is the gateway between her world and a parallel world in which war rages, she realizes she may be the key to a terrible plan. A plan she must stop at all costs…

 

My thoughts:

  • I loved Sinead’s debut, THE EYE OF THE NORTH, so I literally squealed when THE STAR-SPUN WEB turned up on my doorstep. It did not disappoint.
  • This was if Diana Wynn Jones and Phillip Pullman had a literary baby. BIG COMPARISONS, but boy does it earn them. It tells the story of Tess, an orphan who was left on the door of a foundling home as a baby with a mysterious object. When a strange man who claims to be her long-lost relative turns up to take her away from Ackerbees, and the guardians and fellow orphan girls that she loves, Tess is thrust into a mystery with mean governesses, multiple worlds, and a new guardian she can’t trust.
  • Firstly, our heroine. I LOVE me a STEM-interested girl heroine and I adored Tess’s obvious passion for science, and figuring out puzzles–I thought it was integrated so well into the story and made for a great pay off in the climax. Tess’s pet spider, Violet was integral to the story and I loved her role–it’s so difficult to fall in love with a character that can’t physically speak, but Violet communicated through vibrations in such a beautiful way, and really her and Tess’s relationship was the heart of the story.
  • THE STAR-SPUN WEB played with tropes in a delightful way. I though Tess’s clear affection for the foundling home, her friends there, and her guardians was great, and such a nice change from the usual ‘awful orphanages’ trope. I also really enjoyed the close interactions between Tess and Mr Cleat — the mysterious guardian who Tess ends up living with. Tess’s mistrust of him was keenly felt, and I thought it was great (and unusual) for a heroine to see so much of the maybe-potential-antagonist.
  • I am a big fan of multiple world stories. In this story, the world-building (or is it worldsbuilding?) was deft and multifaceted, and I adored the twist on the method of world-travel–it made this multi-verse feel unique and original!
  • The ending was satisfying and wrapped up major threads whilst leaving a few mysteries hanging. I thought it was perfect, and I also thought that THE STAR-SPUN WEB has serious potential for a sequel. I for one, would love to see more of Tess’s world(s).

*This book was kindly sent to me free of charge by the publisher in return for an honest review*

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