**4.5-stars rounded up**
Starling House is darkly enchanting. A perfect October read!
I could see glimmers of greatest, but that story just wasn’t for me in anyway. In spite of that, I never write an author off after just one try, so have picked up other works from Harrow since then.
I had a ton of fun with her Fractured Fables novellas and was ready to try this one out upon its release.
This story is set in the small town of Eden, Kentucky, known for being the home to a reclusive 19th-Century author and illustrator, who mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind her gorgeous gothic estate, Starling House.
We follow a young woman named, Opal, who hasn’t had it easy. She cares for her younger brother and works hard every day to try to make ends meet. She wants a better life for him and sacrifices a lot.
Through a series of interesting events, Opal ends up with a job offer to work at Starling House. She’s to become the regular housekeeper for the estate; trust, a full-time job.
Opal knows better than to mess with supposedly haunted houses, but regardless of her trepidation, she sort of needs this. Bonus, the house-cleaning position offers her the chance to get to know the last heir to the estate, the handsome, yet prickly, Arthur Starling.
The story involves a lot of history of the house, the property, the Starling family, as well as the growing relationship between Opal and Arthur.
I enjoyed learning about all that. Harrow made it so interesting. I just wanted to know more. I will note, there are footnotes utilized in telling this story, and although generally I am fairly ambivalent about their use, I felt here they worked quite well for providing the Reader with extra information needed to truly connect with this story.
Starling House includes a trope, or maybe it’s more accurate to call it a theme, that I have seen pop up recently in quite a few other novels. Most memorably, Hide, These Fleeting Shadows and Episode Thirteen.
If you have read any of these, you may know the concept I’m referring. For me, this is BY FAR, the best that idea, or concept, has been brought to the page recently. I haven’t enjoyed it in any other case, but there was something about the way Harrow told this story that just worked for me.
I loved how dark and whimsical this felt, almost like a Dark Fairy Tale, but while also containing an ‘our world’ modern feel. It was almost a story out of time. It made me think about that television show, Once Upon a Time. Not because of the content, but just the overall vibe.
I became quickly invested in this. Early on I was hooked. I loved how Harrow chose to tell and build out this story. It was easy to get invested in the characters and while I wasn’t at the edge of my seat, I still didn’t want it to end.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Adult Fiction with dark undertones. If unsettling atmosphere, potential whimsical monsters and dark fairy tales are your jam, you have to check this one out.
I’m so glad that I continued to pick up Harrow’s work and encourage every Reader to give authors a second chance. Delightful reads like this could be just around the corner.