Books like An Accident of Stars make me glad that I assign so many two, three and four star reviews. Because when I give a book five stars, I want that to mean something: that this book is stand-out, better than just ‘good’. An Accident of Stars was great, from the first sentence to the last, and I definitely want to read more by Foz Meadows just as soon as my TBR allows.
“Somewhere you shouldn’t be,” came the snapped response. “Down the rabbit hole, through the wardrobe, over the bloody rainbow.”An Accident of Stars, Foz Meadows
Every character is fabulous. I fell in love with Gwen first, because she allowed Foz Meadows to write a portal fantasy without that moment of dramatic irony that so grates on my nerves (I talked about it in my review of The Fandom). Gwen’s been through all this before, and her attitude about it filled me with glee! Some characters are more developed than others and, naturally, we’re given more info about the four viewpoint characters than anyone else, but that just means that there’s still more characters that I want to learn more about in future books!
I have to call particular attention to Viya, who fits one of my favourite tropes. I love when authors are able to give depth to characters who, at first, appear to be nothing more than spoiled teenagers. Malta Vestrit from Robin Hobb’s The Liveship Traders is, perhaps, the paragon, but Viya certainly draws from a similar mould and undergoes a similar, if somewhat shorter, arc.
The relationships – particularly all the relationships Saffron develops – had me cheering for them to keep getting to know each other. They’re all different, but they all feel real and heartfelt and, in some cases, heart-breaking. And I’m still processing the impact that certain plot events will have on those potential relationships in future, which can only be a good thing. The emotions in An Accident of Stars are big and intense and raw, in a way that reminded me of The Thorn Birds and Finnikin of the Rock.
“In Veksh,” said Trishka, “our mothers teach us that there’s a type of story called zejhasa, the braided path: a new tale that starts before the old tale has ended, and which could not exist alone. Every life is zejhasa. Before we are born, our mothers live their own stories, and when we are young, our existence is twined with theirs – small threads in a wider pattern. But as we grow, these threads begin to separate, forming new strands, new lives, new purposes. Our mothers’ stories go on, enriched; but ours will always begin before theirs have ended.An Accident of Stars, Foz Meadows
I don’t usually read fantasy for the world-building, which makes it all the more impressive that Foz Meadows managed to do such a good job that I’d notice how skilful it was! The world in which Saffron finds herself is utterly, realistically different from our world. Foz Meadows managed to invent untranslatable concepts, built their world on entirely different social mores from most western fantasy series. If queer and poly representation are thinks you’re looking for in fantasy books, An Accident of Stars has plenty of both.
Characters who devoutly believe in fictional religions are an interest of mine – especially when the narrative doesn’t necessarily confirm that those beliefs are ‘true’. An Accident of Stars has at least three different religions, and we’re introduced to characters who follow each. I’m particularly intrigued by the religion that’s all about shaping stories and finding the truth in fictional tropes.
To top it all off, the prose is beautiful without getting in the way of the characters, world-building, emotional depth and analysis of internalised culture. In short, I absolutely loved everything about it, which puts it firmly at the very top of my list of all the books I’ve read for books club.