Sunday, January 22, 2023

Review: The Stars Did Wander Darkling by Colin Meloy

by Colin Meloy
Release Date: September 13, 2022
2022 Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0063015517
ASIN: B09N9391SK
Audiobook: B09NF1Q4JN
Genre: Fiction / Juvenile / Horror
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Maybe Archie Coomes has been watching too many horror movies.

He keeps telling himself that this is Seaham, a sleepy seaside town where nothing ever happens. Or at least nothing did, until his dad’s construction company opened up the cliff beneath the old—some say cursed—Langdon place.

Soon, though, he and his friends can’t deny it: more and more of the adults in town are acting strangely. An ancient, long-buried evil has been unleashed upon the community, and it’s up to the kids to stop it before it’s too late. . . .
My Thoughts
The Stars Did Wander Darkling is a good, fun-filled read for those who are looking for milder horror elements, but who are still looking for spooky elements. There were some nice spooky elements in this book and I definitely appreciated the 1980s nostalgia having grown up during that time period, but the long build-up and the disappointing ending as well as a meandering story line made me lose interest in what was happening and I really had to push myself to finish the book.  

First of all, I do think the atmosphere and level of creepiness were fine for this level. I loved reading horror novels at this age and would have loved more of this stuff available when I was young so I dabbled a lot in adult horror at a young age.  The author did manage to create a setting that had a lot of atmosphere that focused on family and friendships and what happens when something suddenly changes within one's world at that age. The exploration of maturity and friendship was good, and I thought the author did a good developing a bit of story line around the concept of what happens when friends discover they no longer have anything in common and start drifting apart.  Personally, I don't think he delved far enough into those themes of friendship and family.

The story line started off fairly strong and I did think it was rather interesting.  Halfway through, something changed and a lot of tropes were introduced, something I don't typically mind in a juvenile fiction book, but there were a lot of things glossed over and forgotten about as well, like injuries miraculously cured and events that weren't fully explored or explained.  It made for a disjointed reading experience and I started to lose interest in the meandering story line. Unfortunately, I didn't care for the ending as it was too neatly wrapped up without a lot of detail, details that would have enriched the reading experience. I think it is easy to underestimate the reader at that age and their quest for answers, but they can see through the gaps in the story lines quite easily and ask a million questions that were not answered in the book.

I did enjoy the characters, but they were mostly one-dimensional without a lot of development, not overly complex.  I did like how the author explored the friendships, but it is hard to really delve into those friendships if you don't really delve into character development, so I felt like the exploration was done on a superficial level so there was a lack of empathy on my part with regards to how they felt as a result.  So and so might be moving away? There should have been a bigger impact on my emotions, but I personally didn't really care.  Move on.  This is due to the writing style.

The Stars Did Wander Darkling had a great cast of characters and a good story line, but the ending is abrupt and most of the consequences to what happened were just brushed over as if nothing happened. I get that there was supposed to be some questions with regards to the ending, but all it did was leave me feeling bewildered and confused.  Overall, while I do think this was a fairly solid piece of writing with some nice horror elements within it, there were definitely things that missed their mark.