Rated Reads

A Sliver of Stardust

by Marissa Burt

Rated: Mild

Wren and another home-schooling student, Simon, are at a science competition when a woman with a large bird comes into the room, leaves a packet of papers, and disappears in a puff of shimmering smoke. No one else saw what they saw, of course, and it’s just the beginning of a new world for the two young people, who have the ability to manipulate stardust as “Fiddlers,” or, simply put, science-loving magicians. They become apprentices to learn more about their abilities and futures, but they also arrive at just the most dangerous time, when a strong and power-hungry magician whom many had thought dead for a century and a half is trying to make a comeback.

A Sliver of Stardust is a fun magical adventure for young readers that incorporates Mother Goose rhymes; they supposedly originated with the Fiddlers’ “spells” but changed a bit over the years. The idea is clever but it isn’t quite “convincing” enough; it feels like a bit of a stretch. Any fantasy story requires some suspension of belief for the reader to fall into it and thoroughly enjoy it, and this one didn’t work completely for me to let me feel as if it were “real.” (I also had a hard time believing that, however go-with-the-flow and “un-schooling” Wren’s parents are, they would be fine with her just going off for what seems to be a couple of months to ostensibly learn about falconry, since the parents aren’t told about the Fiddlers and magic. This and other holes in the story are just too big for me as an older reader to accept.)

The back cover also says the book is “perfect” for fans of A Wrinkle in Time, which is a high bar to set for readers’ expectations. It does not clear it, either, by a long shot. Though entertaining, this book is not one that will enchant readers of all ages and become a longtime favorite, like Madeleine L’Engle’s classic books. Marketers, be careful what you compare to.

Rated: Mild, for younger readers, for some action and peril.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • A Sliver of Stardust
  • by Marissa Burt
  • Rated: Mild
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: