THE LIGHT OF THE MIDNIGHT STARS by Rena Rossner.
Orbit Books. h/b. £14.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
The Kingdom of Hungary. Twelve years old. The next day marks when Sarah will finally begin studying to follow in her Rabbi father’s footsteps. It is a moment she has long-awaited, but something on the edge of her vision shows her that something may be wrong. Sarah conjures fire easily, but other skills are not coming so easily to her. Her father says she is not yet ready to learn. With another misdirection of her power, she is branded ‘unteachable’.
Her sisters, too, one older, connected to the land, one younger, connected to the stars, in their own ways, sense the coming change, and they too know it is not a good fortune awaiting them. There is danger in being different, and the danger is coming ever closer.
The Light of the Midnight Stars shares the stories of these three sisters, following their separate plights as they are forced to leave their home, deny their beliefs, change their names and endure loss, separation and irrevocable change. The Jewish faith is uniquely depicted through the magic system, which allows visual representation of religious beliefs, convictions and fear of persecution for being different.
The opening to this book is phenomenal and sets the tone wonderfully for a well crafted and deeply thought out tale. There is an ancient, dreamlike quality to much of the narration, which weaves flawlessly around the ‘now’ of the story. The main thread follows the sisters’ journeys, and each chapter is also rich with folklore and lessons from their culture and faith. This cannot be compared to any other YA offering and deserves its place on the ‘must reads’ of the year.