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A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw
Young adult

A Wilderness of Stars

by Shea Ernshaw

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Quick take

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

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance

    Romance

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Magical

    Magical

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Quest

    Quest

Synopsis

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.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of A Wilderness of Stars.
A Wilderness of Stars

ONE

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.

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Why I love it

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.

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Member ratings (1,644)

  • Alexandra S.

    Lansing, MI

    I sobbed reading this book. I understand why Vega couldn’t say anything but I wish she’d come clean from the beginning. It wouldn’t have changed the ending but maybe she wouldn’t be so heartbroken

  • Taylie H.

    Perry, UT

    I loved this book all the way to the end! The way it was written captured my attention and I didn’t want it to end. It does start out a little slow, but it picks up as it goes along and just takes off

  • Devon T.

    Roy, UT

    Ernshaw writes unlike anyone else out there and I cannot give higher praise than that. This was part wilderness fic, part sci-fi, part romance, part mythology…it was exciting, dreamy, totally unique.

  • Annich S.

    Denver, CO

    Towards the end of the book, I got so into it I lost track of time. I love anything to do with space so I truly enjoyed this book. I really hope there is a part 2 because I’m going to keep wondering.

  • Danielle L.

    Grayville, IL

    Slow moving but written so well it will suck you in, and spit you out at the end with a book hangover. After you think you already know everything you need to, more information comes out of left field

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