I feel like my reviews are all out of order lately as I have been reading new releases and trying to publish reviews of them right away. Check out my reviews of The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue by Karina Yan Glaser and The Bootlace Magician by Cassie Beasley. If you haven’t started those series yet, you are seriously missing out!
Today I am sharing a review of Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin. I actually read this book back in August after we picked it up at one of our favorite local bookstores. Wow, it feels like forever since I finished it! Luckily I have been keeping up on my Goodreads reviews so I remember a lot of what I enjoyed about this book.
I really enjoyed this companion novel to Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon which I read in 2017. To clarify, this is not a sequel. It is a novel written in a similar style and with overlapping references to Chinese folklore.
- This is a lovely story with so much rich Chinese folklore. I love reading the folklore stories (more about that below) and the beautiful illustrations. Grace Lin is a talented artist!
- This book is one of those physically beautiful books that I am very glad to own because it is so pretty.
- It was a quick read for me. Between the illustrations and the short stories within small chapters, this story reads fast.
According to Goodreads, “The moon is missing from the remote Village of Clear Sky, but only a young boy named Rendi seems to notice! Rendi has run away from home and is now working as a chore boy at the village inn. He can’t help but notice the village’s peculiar inhabitants and their problems-where has the innkeeper’s son gone? Why are Master Chao and Widow Yan always arguing? What is the crying sound Rendi keeps hearing? And how can crazy, old Mr. Shan not know if his pet is a toad or a rabbit?
But one day, a mysterious lady arrives at the Inn with the gift of storytelling, and slowly transforms the villagers and Rendi himself. As she tells more stories and the days pass in the Village of Clear Sky, Rendi begins to realize that perhaps it is his own story that holds the answers to all those questions.
Newbery Honor author Grace Lin brings readers another enthralling fantasy featuring her marvelous full-color illustrations. Starry River of the Sky is filled with Chinese folklore, fascinating characters, and exciting new adventures.”
I enjoyed the journey Rendi goes on and how he learns to befriend and work with those around him. He begins the story as such an unfriendly, rude character, but he transforms into a true and loyal friend. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding his past and piecing together the details of his former life and his running away. The ending brings us full circle with Rendi and gives us a lot of hope for his future. I think Rendi’s stories that he shares with the people in Clear Sky are my favorites.
The stories within the story are my favorite element in the novel (oh and the beautiful illustrations!). I enjoy the stories simplicity and the simple lessons they teach. Hearing these legends about the sun, the moon, and people the characters have met are all fascinating. I have read a fair amount of Greek and Roman myths (and I’ve read several books by Rick Riordan) so I have a pretty good background on Western mythology. But I have never read any Chinese folklore until I was introduced to Grace Lin’s novels by a friend. I am so glad I’ve read her work! Grace Lin has a beautiful storytelling style that engages readers easily in each story.
The fantasy elements in the story were also fun and mysterious. Not every character is who they seem to be. And the stories are not always long ago myths. Many of them are true and connected to Rendi’s present life in the village of Clear Sky. The mysteries surrounding some characters and the ways their wishes and hopes are intertwined and fulfilled was clever and satisfying. And of course, the largest mystery about the disappearance of the moon is compelling and uncovered in surprising ways.
The ending is lovely and connects all the dots for readers while allowing us to imagine the next part of the story. This isn’t a complicated read and it wasn’t really a book that had me on the edge of my seat or staying up all night to finish it. But is it a compelling story told with brilliant illustrations and fascinating characters. I am glad to have read it and hope to read more by Grace Lin in future. A lovely read!
Have you read anything by Grace Lin yet?
What are your favorite books about folklore?