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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Hodgson

The House of Sorrowing Stars by Beth Cartwright

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

The House of Sorrowing Stars has certainly been one of my favourite reads of the year so far.

The story follows Liddy, a young woman who is feeling pressured into marrying a man she doesn't even like, let alone love. Her father is a celebrated marchpane maker and she wants nothing more to create daring and creative new flavours herself. When she receives a surprise and mysterious invitation to make marchpane for the House of Sorrowing Stars, she jumps at the chance. The house is not, however, what she expected and Liddy has to wonder if her host, Vivienne, had some ulterior motive for inviting her to the secretive and faded house.

Cartwright's writing is just gorgeous which isn't really surprising when the heart of the novel explores ideas around the very nature and power of storytelling. What I wouldn't give to explore the shelves in the house's library and see it for myself! The various teas that pop up in that room are exquisitely described and I could almost taste them. In the same way, my mouth watered at the descriptions of the marchpane flavours - and I don't even really enjoy marzipan that much!

The theme of grief weaves its way through the book and at times it feels melancholy, but it's not an inherently sad story. In fact, I found it incredibly uplifting. These characters navigate the creaky, unsettling old house the way they must learn to navigate their emotions and, sometimes, neither thing will lead you where you expect.

Haunting, lyrical and beautiful, The House of Sorrowing Stars is a wonderful magical realism read and will stay with you long after you've turned the final page.

My thanks to Del Rey UK for having me on the tour and sending me an advance copy.


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