The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner

Deep in the Hungarian woods, the sacred magic of King Solomon lives on in his descendants. Gathering under the midnight stars, they perform small miracles and none are more gifted than the great Rabbi Isaac and his three daughters. 

Hannah, bookish and calm, can coax plants to grow even when the weather is bitterly cold. Sarah, defiant and strong, can control the impulsive nature of fire. And Levana, the fey one, can read the path of the stars to decipher their secrets. 

But darkness is creeping across Europe, threatening the lives of every Jewish person in every village. Each sister will have to make an impossible choice in an effort to survive – and change the fate of their family forever. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Angela Man at Orbit Books for sending me this book in exchange for my honest opinion. The Light of the Midnight Stars is available now.

Before going on with my review, I have to ooh and aah over the cover. It is absolutely gorgeous! I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but with a cover like this, I was dying to jump right into the story.

Beautifully written and ambitiously told, The Light of the Midnight Stars is an intricate tale of love, loss, and family. It has a darker fairy tale feel to it, that stayed with me long after the final page. It takes elements of Jewish history and folklore and weaves together a tale that manages to be fantastical, while feeling utterly true. I think truth can often be found in the pages of a fantasy book, and this is one example of that.

This book starts with a Rabbi who lives with his family in a small and peaceful place. There is a sense tradition and that everyone knows their place. However, things are not as peaceful as it seems. When tragedy strikes the family’s village, they have to run, changing their names and hiding their past.

The Light of the Midnight Stars is told from the points of view of three sisters with magical powers, each different in both temperament and skill. While I enjoyed each point of view, it was wild and rebellious Sarah that stood out to me. She wasn’t always likable, and actually came across as rather selfish from time to time, but that made her all the more believable. Her complexity made her a fascinating character.

The story itself is complicated, and seems to have many levels. There are examples of antisemitism throughout, and there were instances of the nature that I normally avoid (such as sexual assault), which made it a difficult read. However, while at times it was incredibly harsh, The Light of the Midnight Stars never descended into complete hopelessness. This was a delicate balance that author Rena Rossner kept very well.

This is a slower read. There is a lot of history that is told and the subject matter made it a heavier book for me, emotionally. It took longer to read than my usual books because of it, but it was worth it. I was taken by surprise with some of the things that happened, although in retrospect I probably shouldn’t have been. Please be aware that this will be a difficult read for many (it was tough for me) so please go into it with caution, especially if there are things that trigger you. That being said, The Light of the Midnight Stars is an engrossing and creative book, one that I recommend for readers who like a mesh of old and new, and fantasy with a hint of history in it.

8 thoughts on “The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner

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