Book Review: “Inherit the Stars” by Tessa Elwood
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Ha ha, sorry, nope. Just kidding.
Asa is the youngest daughter of House Fane, which has been plagued by an energy crisis and famine for years. The empire is under communication lockdown and in desperate need of help, or their enemies in House Galton will exploit their weaknesses and engage them in war. The only thing that can save them is a marriage between their heir and the heir of House Westlet. Asa, in order to save her sister, takes the place of the bride, but in doing so she may have doomed the alliance. Now she and Eagle must sell a star-crossed love story to their people as well as deal with the sudden reappearance of her traitorous mother, who holds a secret that may ruin everything.
Inherit the Stars is the debut novel from author Tessa Elwood, and I can tell that there is a lot of potential, both in the writing ability and the possibility of a really compelling story. There are definitely elements in this first book in a series that could have me coming back to find out what happens, but overall I just really wanted more of everything. There was an unfortunate lack of world building, which in turn led to issues in the story telling.
The main catalyst in Inherit the Stars is Asa’s desperate desire to save her sister, Wren, who is in a coma and shows no signs of waking. This I can appreciate, as female relationships in modern media can often be poorly done. However, Asa also has another sister, Emmie, and there is no explanation as to why she is so close to Wren but not at all close to Emmie. It is Emmie who is set to marry Eagle of House Westlet in order to secure the alliance, but when Asa takes her place as bride, it is more to save Wren from being taken off life support than it is to save Emmie from a loveless marriage.
Likewise, Asa’s relationship with Eagle is sadly underdeveloped. Eagle was by far the most interesting character in the book, yet I feel we didn’t get nearly enough of him. It is no surprise that their posturing leads to a genuine connection – this is the fake-married trope with the bonus of them being real-married – and while I can legitimately see why Asa would eventually develop feelings for Eagle, it is more difficult to actually see it happen. The foundations are there, but the whole thing happens so quickly that it’s like watching the Amish build a barn – all of a sudden, there it is, and it may look sturdy but when it happened so fast, how can you be so sure?
The bombshell dropped by Asa’s mother, who defected to House Galton many years before, isn’t that much of a surprise if you really think about it, but I was surprised by how quickly it was attempted to be resolved, considering that this is only the first book in a series. There is time to draw out the speculation and amp up the dramatic tension. I felt that even trying to wrap up that plot thread in the first book was too ambitious, and it was rather hastily done to be satisfying.
Though set in space, I would categorize it as more fantasy than science fiction, purely because so much of the science is left up to the imagination. There is very little description of the technology, the atmosphere, and the setting. Everything is vague and hand-wavy, presented as it is with no explanation for what and how. There is almost nothing to make it stand out as science fiction other than the fact that it takes place on different planets, which was disappointing. I love a good sci-fi, but Inherit the Stars is missing a lot of the elements that make sci-fi what it is.
Of course, none of this means that Inherit the Stars is a bad book. It isn’t bad; it just could have been so much better. The fact that it is the first book in a series as well as the author’s first book period means that there is so much potential for improvement in the coming books. And while it took me a while to warm up to Asa as a character, I think I’m invested enough in Eagle to want to know what happens to the both of them, so more than likely I will pick up the second book once it is published.
Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood is published by Running Press Kids and will be available December 8th wherever books are sold.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from THE Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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