An unexpected omen forces a young woman to leave her home and claim her destiny to put the stars back in alignment.
Good to know
If magic lives anywhere, it’s in the stars . . .
Vega has lived in the valley her whole life—forbidden by her mother to leave the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the wilds beyond. But after her mother dies, and Vega sees the fabled twin stars in the sky, it’s an omen she can no longer ignore, forcing her to leave the protective boundaries of the valley. But the outside world turns out to be much more terrifying than Vega could have imagined. People are gravely sick—they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose their lives.
What Vega keeps to herself is that she is the Last Astronomer—a title carried from generation to generation—and she is the only one who carries the knowledge of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to the cure. And so when locals spot the tattoo on Vega’s neck in the shape of a constellation—the mark of an astronomer—chaos erupts as the threats her mother warned her about become all too real.
Fearing for her life, Vega is rescued by a girl named Cricket who leads her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos. On the run from the men who are hunting her, Vega, Cricket, and Noah set out across the plains in search of the cure the stars speak of. But as the lines between friend and protector begin to blur, Vega must decide whether to safeguard the sacred knowledge of the astronomer. Or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.
A Wilderness of Stars
Mom is dying, and we both know it.
She’s been sick for almost a month, the consumption shredding apart her insides, clouding her eyes, and making it impossible for her to breathe without an awful rasp.
On the roof of our small house, I lie flat on my back, breathing in the cool, windless spring air—the night sky a riddle of stars above me—but inside the cabin, through the open window, I can hear Mom dozing fitfully: fever making her sweat and toss and mumble in her sleep.
I press my palms against the roof beneath me, as if I could push away the awful sound, push away the sickness inside her. I count the constellations, naming them in my mind—a ritual that Mom insists I repeat night after night so I won’t forget—and it calms me, the pattern of unaltered stars, their position always right where they should be. Unlike Mom, who is slipping away. Beyond the row of blue spruce trees on the far side of the summer garden, above the valley wall, I trace Clovis and Andromeda with my fingertip. I find Orion, the hunter from Greek mythology, and Rigel, a bright blue-white supergiant shimmering near the horizon. Each one tells a story. Each one has some secret to be shared, if I have the patience to look.
I follow the simple line of Aries, the golden-fleeced ram, my finger making a slight arc through the midnight sky. Sometimes I let myself fall asleep on the roof, to be closer to the stars; sometimes I stay awake all night, searching for something up there that might bring me hope.
I search for something that isn’t there.
An owl lets out a low, somber cry from the toolshed; the wind slides across the roof, stirring my long, dark hair, curled slightly at the ends, sending gooseflesh across my scarred, copper skin. And I wonder if it’s all for nothing. All the knowledge I keep safe inside me—patterns and sequences and the names of constellations—all of it useless if I never leave these valley walls.
Why I love it
Author, Spells for Forgetting
Shea Ernshaw’s signature prose and peerless worldbuilding are two of the big draws readers should look forward to in A Wilderness of Stars. I’m a fan of all of Ernshaw’s titles, and this one is a worthy addition to her fantastic catalog.
The adventure begins in a remote yet tranquil valley, where Vega, the last Astronomer, spots something in the sky that she and her mother have been waiting for her whole life—the arrival of the sister stars. The sighting ignites a fate that will take Vega on a journey in search of a mysterious figure called the Architect.
On her shoulders rests a generations-deep destiny every woman in her family bore before her. With the loss of her mother, Vega’s birthright as an Astronomer will drive her into the unknown far from the protection of the valley she’s always known. A slowly unfurling world that feels both fresh and classic at the same time is the backdrop of her treacherous adventure. Along the way, she’ll find love, friendship, and truths about herself that she never could have imagined.
From the valley to the sea, A Wilderness of Stars is filled with a sense of nostalgia, discovery, and relatable heartache that makes this a story I’m already excited to re-read.
Member ratings (1,424)
Palo Alto, CA
This book is the sort of thing I send to my friends. Mystical and adventurous and romantic. The writing was beautiful, blue, sequined, and dreamlike. I like the way that the story slowly unfolded.
Broken Arrow, OK
Such an interesting read!! Slow to start at first but later I didn’t want to put it down! I loved all of the characters and being sucked into their lives, hating the villains along with them.
I absolutely loved the concept of this book and the beautiful writing! What an amazing twist too! I do think the romance was rushed, but not enough to ruin it for me. I hope there is a sequel!
San Antonio, TX
I'm currently reading this one and love the way it's written it feels very nostalic... almost like reading a book about the great west and Oregon trail. I'm excited to see where it's going
I went into this book blind and only knowing it was by Shea Ernshaw. This was different than other books by her but still beautifully written and full of atmosphere with plenty of twists.