Publisher's Note:  

In a glamorous castle full of Llyvraneth's elite, Celyn Contrare serves as a lady-in-waiting to shy young Merista Nemair. Her days are spent dressing in velvet, attending Lady Merista, navigating court gossip, and charming noblemen over lavish feasts.

And at night, she picks locks, steals jewels, forges documents, and collects secrets. Because Celyn isn't really a lady-in-waiting; she's not even really Celyn Contrare. She's Digger, a sneak-thief on the run from the king's Inquisition, desperate to escape its cruel instruments and hatred of magic. If she's discovered, it will mean her certain death.

But life as a lady-in-waiting isn't safe either. The devious Lord Daul knows her secret, and he's blackmailing her to serve as his personal spy in the castle. What she discovers-about Daul, about the Nemair, even about her own Lady Merista -- could signal civil war in Llyvraneth. And for a thief trained never to get involved, taking sides could be the most dangerous job yet.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Arthur A. Levine (A Scholastic Imprint)

Star Crossed

by Elizabeth C. Bunce

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Overall Review:  

In the tradition of great classic fantasy, Elizabeth C. Bunce weaves a world that readers will love to get lost in!  Star Crossed tells the story of lady-in-waiting Celyn Contrare—also known as Digger, a talented street thief and forger.  When a job goes horribly wrong, Digger winds up falling in with Lady Merista Nemair. When Merista offers her the chance to be her lady's maid, Digger—now known as Celyn—accompanies her to the snowbound stronghold of Bryn Shaer, where nobody is quite who they seem to be. Digger is quickly entangled in a web of secrets, lies, and betrayals, and finds herself about to break one of the cardinal rules of thievery: "Don't get involved."  With a complex, slowly unfolding plot, well-drawn characters, and just enough potential romance to keep you on the edge of your seat, Star Crossed is a must-read for any fans of good fantasy.. or good writing.  I loved the multi-layered characters, complicated relationships, and the themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and courage woven throughout the novel.

Content Analysis:  

There is mild profanity, particularly oaths made in the name of fictional gods, throughout the book. 

There are several mentions of violence, most of which are mild to moderate in nature but a few of which are strong.  The world of Star Crossed is ruled by a corrupt King who employs a High Inquisitor to dole out gruesome punishments to those who defy the crown or the reigning religion.  In a few places, these punishments are described.  The descriptions aren't graphic, but the punishments are creative and disgusting enough to still merit a "strong" violence warning.  In general, the level of violence is fairly in line with what you would expect from either a fantasy or dystopian novel.  

There is mild sexual content throughout the book, mostly veiled references to seductions or loose morals.  One character is described as adjusting her dress to reveal more of her bosom, and having numerous apparently sexual relationships with different men (no details are ever given).  Another character is called a courtesan, and on a few occasions the narrator remarks that she has a way of persuading men to do things, but the comment is not overtly sexual and no other details are ever given.  One character worries that if she is caught by the law officers, they will hurt her, and the possibility of sexual assault is implied. Overall, the sexual references are almost all discreet enough that a younger reader most likely wouldn't even catch them. 

Mature Subject Matter:  

Mature themes include betrayal of close relationships, death (including an accidental murder by a central character), and making difficult sacrifices.

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Reviewed By CindyB
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