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[Book Review] Star Mother by Charlie N. Holmberg

by A.E. Santana

Ceris Wenden is a spirited, fun-loving young woman looking forward to her upcoming nuptials. But when the Sun God chooses her village of Endwever to provide a Star Mother, Ceris sacrifices her future and her life. Ceris is shocked when she survives birthing a star, but not as shocked to discover herself centuries into the future she thought she had ceded.

Charlie N. Holmberg’s fantasy YA romance, Star Mother, centers on the travels of Ceris as she attempts to find her place between Earth Mother and the heavens. Holmberg’s prose is neat and decisive, pairing well with the energetic pacing of the plot, deftly moving the reader from one scene to the next. In Star Mother, the reader witnesses Ceris’ journey and discovers love, passion, friendship, pain, and joy alongside her.

The world-crafting by Holmberg is both skillful and lovely, revealing a universe with extensive lore, engaging characters, and an enchanting setting that spans the earth to the heavens. Holmberg shares Ceris’ world with the audience with succinct and charming details that paint a picture for readers while moving the story forward. Beautiful, captivating, and delightful, the universe of Star Mother is one that readers will want to continue to explore.

This young adult novel is also a refreshing addition to fantasy romances as Ceris has multiple healthy romantic relationships that don’t bow under the weight of the “one-true love” ideal. In fact, Ceris’ strongest and most pure relationship is with her daughter, not a romantic interest.

Holmberg is able to weave these different relationships—romantic, friendship, familial—into a solid, singular narrative that focuses on Ceris’ development as a person, rather than on a focus of who she is in love with. This is an encouraging point of view, especially for young adult readers, proving that love comes in many different forms and at different times of our lives.

In Star Mother, friendship is a driving force in the romantic relationships. Holmberg creates a foundation of trust and respect that paves the way for each of Ceris’ romances. Whether she has fallen for her mortal betrothed, or the father of her child, or the being she eventually choses to spend the rest of her live with, each relationship grows from faith, loyalty, and admiration.

Spurred by adventure and the heart, Star Mother by Charlie H. Holmberg is a fun and exciting read for fans of YA fantasy romances. Filled with heartwarming relationships of all types, the novel is a great example of finding love by being true to yourself and following your heart and your gut.

A.E. Santana is a Southern California native who grew up in a farming community surrounded by the Sonoran Desert. A lover of horror and fantasy, her works can be found in Latinx Screams, Demonic Carnival III, and other horror anthologies. She is the managing editor for Kelp Books, the paranormal/true horror editor for Kelp Journal, and the co-editor for The Coachella Review’s monthly column, Voice to Books. A.E. Santana is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a founding playwright for East Valley Repertory Theatre in Indio, California. She has been a moderator for several horror panels, including “No Longer the Scream Queen: Women’s Roles in Horror.” She received her MFA in fiction from the University of California, Riverside's low-residency program. Her perfect day consists of a cup of black tea and her cat, Flynn Kermit.


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