The Forest of Stars

Holt. Aug. 2020. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250297006.
Gr 4-7–After her mother’s slow death by the grief-hungry “love bugs” chewing away at her heart, 12-year-old Louisa sleeps alone every night, floating just above her mother’s grave. Born with the power to walk on air like her long-lost father, Louisa hides her magic and fears being blown away by the wind into the forest of stars above. But when she finds an invitation to the mysterious Carnival Beneath the Stars, she finds herself on a path to understanding her “mystique.” She is surrounded by new friends with other magical powers, from commanding shadows to telekinesis. Louisa may even find answers about her father, if she can unravel the complex secrets of the carnival and its members. Kassner’s poetic descriptions and endlessly inventive world-building drive this fairy tale of self-discovery. Although the plot development is certainly secondary to character-building and atmosphere, the lovable cast, centered around thoughtful and determined Louisa, pulls readers through the simple mystery plot to its emotionally satisfying conclusion.
VERDICT Fans of Kelly Barnhill and Neil Gaiman will love Kassner’s sometimes sinister, always magical carnival in this evocative fantasy about finding your place in the world.

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