Old Ways Are Pitted Against New Horrors In This Compellingly Crafted Dystopian Tale About A Girl Who Is Both Healer And SeerTwo Hundred Years From Now, Blood Has Become The Most Valuable Commodity On The Planet Especially The Blood Of Aboriginal Peoples, For It Contains Antibodies That Protect Them From The Plague Ravaging The Rest Of The WorldSixteen Year Old Cassandra Mercredi Might Be Immune To Plague, But That Doesn T Mean She S Safe Government Forces Are Searching For Those Of Aboriginal Heritage To Harvest Their Blood When A Search Threatens Cassandra And Her Family, They Flee To The Island A Mysterious And Idyllic Territory Protected By The Band, A Group Of Guerrilla Warriors And By An Enigmatic Energy Barrier That Keeps Outsiders Out And The Spirit World In And Though The Village Healer Has Taken Her Under Her Wing, And The Tribal Leader S Son Into His Heart, The Creatures Of The Spirit World Are Angry, And They Have Chosen Cassandra To Be Their Voice And InstrumentIncorporating The Traditions Of The First Peoples As Well As The Familiar Stories Of Greek Mythology And Arthurian Legend, Shadows Cast By Stars Is A Haunting, Beautifully Written Story That Breathes New Life Into Ancient Customs


10 thoughts on “Shadows Cast By Stars

  1. says:

    I expected an action packed, fast paced adventure, with incorporated elements of Native American mythologyI got a book filled with uninteresting introspection and a whole lot of boredom Shadows Cast By Stars is of a self exploration book, a rite of passage for the main character than it is a dystopian based book Technically, it is a dystopian tale, since that is the setting in which the story takes place, but it moves along at such a slow pace and the setting is so far removed from the major parts of actual life, actual culture and people, that one can hardly tell that the dystopian part is there at all I certainly expected a lot excitement from the blurb s promise, and I was very disappointed by what I read.This book takes place in the future, where a very vaguely described plague has decimated the population The book summary made the deadly plague seem like it would play a major role within the book, but this event is barely mentioned throughout the first half of the book at all Cassandra, her troubled twin brother, and father ended up running away and going into hiding to a mysterious place called The Island Their blood aboriginal blood is supposed to be valuable to the government, and there are rumors that the government are holding people hooked up to machines, milking them for their blood, keeping them captive for the rest of their lives Again, this is barely mentioned in the book.Cass s brother Paul can foresee the shadowy future, Cass herself sees shadow creatures, spirits, totems It is a pretty useless power, as far as I can tell in the book Their power and mysticism play no relevance to the plot except to develop and portray Cass as a spiritual, mystical character who is completely unremarkable and indistinctive otherwise.The Island is supposed to be a place of hiding, where a native community has gathered in secrecy, undiscovered and unmonitored by the government There, they encounter prejudice because Cass and her twin brother are only half blood The first half of the book is mostly about the prejudice and difficulties Cass and her family faces, and Cass spiritual training.Did I mention spiritual training and rituals Let me mention it again There is SO much of it there Yes, it s significant, a tradition, steeped in history I don t care.I expected a dystopian adventure, not a book about history and tradition I don t mean to be offensive, I am not diminishing the significance of the culture, I just wanted something else out of this book, and I feel disgruntled and misled The summary promised me an adventure It did not deliver on that promise.It is difficult reading about the hate that the family face Cassandra aptly named, think Greek prophet encounters hate from so many people, not just the young and misinformed people in the tribe, but from the elders Not even the old, supposedly wise men are above calling her a slut It s hard and painful to read Despite the hate encountered, the culture itself is lovingly described There is a lot of explanation about spiritual training, Native culture, and the M tis in general Our French is patois than pure, but it marks us as what we are M tis Once the children of the coureurs de bois and their Indian wives of convenience, we are now just what the name means mixed Half breeds Not red enough to be red, and not white enough to be white We don t have a native tongue Our myths are a curious twist of European tales and plains folklore, and never do we dance until we become one with the spirit world We jig instead, hopping and skipping to fiddle and spoons The descriptions are beautifully written, giving the appropriate mystical feel to the book The author is half M tis, and it shows that she knows her subject, the legends, and has done the research The plot plods and drags along however beautiful the writing, I found myself reading the book in bits and pieces, never able to withstand than a dozen pages or so at a time, because it just was not interesting to me The plot did not live up to my expectations of a dystopian adventure.The writing is dreamy and lyrical The cadence of the drum changes and the crowd parts The Elders, wrapped in cloaks of woven cedar bark, stagger up to the fire Firelight glints off the shells sewn to the capes, shells that have become eyes of the creatures painted there However, the plot is weak to the point of nonexistence, and moves along at the pace of chilled molasses The government and the Corridor again, the concept of the Corridor is very poorly explained, and I found myself lost than once is made out to be ineffectively stupid If blood is such a valuable commodity, surely there is a scientific way to replicate the DNA and the antibodies I feel like the plot of this book is made up for the interest of this book instead of based on scientific facts Two hundred years from now, we don t have the technology for replicating antibodies In 2013, we re so close to cures for so many diseases we re so close to cloning, we can isolate cancer genes, we can grow certain parts from stem cellsand yet, the author expects us to believe that THAT far ahead, we lack some truly fucking simple medical technology It beggars belief.The pace doesn t pick up slightly until the latter 1 3 of the book, and then it s still not what I had expected There s no big bad government here 95% of the conflict comes from within the community itself It is self destructive, it is insular, it is cannibalistic, filled with hate and irrational fear, and I find it very hard to sympathize with anyone within it Consequently, I didn t care what happened to them, Cass could have abandoned them to destruction and I wouldn t have blamed her one bit.I could definitely have done without the first 2 3s of the book, or at least a condensed version The plot picks up a bit towards the end, and I enjoyed Cass as a character She becomes tougher, stronger out of necessity, and is definitely one of those people who develop their strength in difficult times Still, there was the unbearable beginning of the book to account for, so I can t truly recommend this book for a reader expecting an adventure Not recommended unless you are a fan of slow paced books and terribly slow personal narratives.This is not an intriguing read as one would have expected from the promising summary There is no excitement There is no enjoyment Go read a history book on native and aboriginal cultures, it would be interesting and relevant than this poor excuse of a dystopian novel.


  2. says:

    There s a story among people, not my people, for I am, and will always be, one apart But there s a story of how people came to be, how Raven dropped from the sky to pry open a clam shell, and found humankind inside They say that this story took place a long, long time ago when earth was still young, when Raven still spoke words that were lies and truth at the same time So I say This is the story of the way things once were, and now are, and how they will be, for if there is one thing I ve learned, it s that we are not bound by the myths created for us. These are my truths, my myths, my lies This is my story This is the story of Cassandra, a half blood aboriginal whose family must flee their home to a place called The Island in order to keep her and her twin brother safe from the government For people of aboriginal decent are valuable to the government as their blood is the only known cure for the Plague that has ravaged the world and wiped out most of the population Those with aboriginal blood are drained of their life force to save the greater good Cassandra has always been different, so has her brother They are connected to the Spirit world and Cassandra has the unique ability to see other people s Shades, their spirit selves She can also cross into Spirit whenever she wants to These are powerful and rare abilities so when they arrive on the Island, a sanctuary that is guarded by a group of guerrilla warriors who call themselves The Band and an energy force that keeps out all non Aboriginals from the Island, she is taken under the healers wing and protected from the greedy Elders who would use her for their own deeds But it is not just the healers heart she touches but the Band leader s son who falls for her strength, courage, love and beauty For Cassandra is the ultimate warrior and one of the strongest female characters I have ever read The spirit world is angry and it will stop at nothing to be heard and they have chosen Cassandra to deliver their message This book was unlike anything I have read in a very long time The mysticism of the aboriginal people combined with the pure magic of Knutsson s writing sweeps the reader off their feet from the very first page It has been a very long time since I have read something so lyrical and poetic that you feel the very spirit world that Cassandra visits all around you Knutsson s writing blew me away The way she could describe something so beautifully that it had the reader feeling as though they were standing there with the character experiencing everything right along with them But this story is not all beauty, for there are some ugly deep rooted messages that Knutsson covers For racism, greed and hate are prevalent throughout this book and Cassandra must stand against all of them The UA government bleeds her people dry to save the white men, but even on her protected island she is discriminated against because she is what they call a half blood This Island that is supposed to be a sanctuary away from the UA is steeped in the same ugliness that the Elders and leaders believe they have escaped from Knutsson s portrayal of these underlying themes had me gripping the book in anger, wanting to jump through the pages and scream at these people for their disgusting behavior But unfortunately this is nothing new, for this kind of behavior can be found in our world and not just in Knutsson s While I normally love intense romances, the relationship between Bran and Cassandra was just as beautiful as some of the intense relationships that I love even though Knutsson did not spend a lot of time focusing on their relationship It was a sweet romance that was handled perfectly and maturely for people grow up fast on the island and life is short and Cassandra is not someone to question her own mind She knows what she wants and she goes for it I should have been there His voice is breathy as if the words hurt his throat Should he have I look up at him For sixteen years I have survived without Bran Eagleson I stand, slowly, and lift my shirt to expose the scar on my belly before Bran can look away Look at this, Bran Look I don t need a protector I am capable of taking care of myself, and if you can t handle that, then you should leave I let my shirt fall back into place and sit back down You want me to leave He asks Surprise colors his voice No I begin to work on the wind chime again, just so I won t have to look at him If I did I would want to fix his hurt, his confusion, but thats not for me This, Bran needs to figure out on his own, though nothing says I can t help him along a bit I want you to stay, but only if we re equals Not if you think I need your protection, that I m your responsibility all the time Their relationship is one of mutual respect and deep rooted love and a trust in each other that has them both putting their life in each others hands without a moment of doubt It s as magical and beautiful as everything else in this book But what I loved most, other than Knutsson s incredible writing, was all the aboriginal mysticism and beliefs that are the root of this story I didn t know much about their culture or beliefs before reading this book but now I am fascinated and am eagerly looking forward to learning about them Their belief in the universe and that everything has a soul or what I like to call energy , the air we breath, the grass we walk on, the chair we sit on and the desk that I type at, it s all connected and as much alive as we are It s a belief I share with them and one I thought Knutsson captured beautifully Madda, the healer that takes Cass under her wing, was one of my favorite characters and will have you laughing, crying and thinking throughout the whole book When she explains to Cass the stories that Cass must carry on to the next healer, the understanding of the universe and the spirit world, I felt as thought she was speaking directly to me and passing on to me these valuable lessons Not only did I get swept away on an amazing journey of a story but I felt that my beliefs were challenged as well and I have walked away from this book with even peace in what I believe my place in this universe truly means.Catherine Knutsson is one of my new favorite authors and I cannot wait to see what else she produces for she is truly one of the best new voices in YA today and Shadows Cast by Stars is one that everyone should read.


  3. says:

    A finished unsolicited copy was provided by the publisher for review.There s such a creepy tone when I read this book that I couldn t help but get shivers Thinking of the spirit world in a sense makes me think of ghosts Eeks Imagine being able walk into the world and talk and interact with souls I wished there was of this I don t know what to call it but soul searching.I love the concept of the disease The plague wiping out most of the world but when a scientist finds out the antibodies in native blood prevents them from getting sick from the plague But I definitely wished there was world building I really thought that would be the main plot of the story, the government trying to track them down and drain their blood I guess the description was wrong since most of the book is about Cassandra trying to learn her new powers, and helping her twin brother.There was a lot of everyday tasks that Cass had to do to survive and I didn t think it added too much to the story, so those parts can be edited down There s an unknown history with Cassandra s brother Paul and I can t help but wonder what it is Even Cassandra herself has a dark past which are touched upon in a few paragraphs I couldn t help but cringe as to how the Band and their citizens treated her It felt all too much like prejudice and superiority all mixed into one.I loved the beautiful visualization that Catherine Knutsson writes with It was detailed enough for you to add your own visual cues I certainly imagined what their house looked like and how the Island looked like There s a lot of mystery and intrigue in this novel, and I would love to know how it all works out.Quotes Dreams can be tempting, you know Sometimes they re so sweet we don t want to come back to our bodies Madda


  4. says:

    I am dying to get my hands on this one The cover is beautiful, and I know Catherine Knutsson s writing is wonderful so I m really looking forward to seeing what she does with this novel.Okay wow, gorgeous, gorgeous book Like waking up in the dark.Have you ever watched Princess Mononoke There s that one scene where the forest god is walking through the lake, with the half submerged trees, and there s light everywhere and yeah.This book felt like that scene dreamlike, dangerous, wild, spiritual.It s definitely not going to be for every YA reader the pace is languid, the prose elegant But my god the imagery I could see Cass s world as clearly as if I were there, smell the cold on the wind, see the shades rippling behind people Also, while the setting is post apocalyptic, because of the weaving of myths and legends through the narrative, I d place this firmly in fantasy.I m hoping there s a sequel written to this because while one part of Cass s journey is done her acceptance of her powers and becoming the medicine woman there is still so much that has to happen, especially if Knutsson holds with her Arthurian motif.


  5. says:

    This beautifully written debut novel is highly original and captivating It does seem like it s the first in a series and there should be to come I hope the author writes a sequel I could not help but notice one of the reviews, unfortunately the one that got the most likes, complains that its is too slow and nothing happens Okay..people reading this book expectinga First Nations Native American version of Hunger Games might be disappointed, however I disagree that nothing happens , because a lot happens There is not a lot of fighting in every chapter like Hunger Games, but this book is also about a young women s journey becoming a medicine woman A lot takes place in the spirit world , a mythical place where dreams, legends of the past and reality are real The dystopian part takes second place to what happens on a personal level I loved this book and recommend it


  6. says:

    This will be an interesting review to write simply because I have such conflicting feelings about this novel I gave it four stars but really, that is no reflection at all on how I actually really feel about it so read on and I might be able to articulate myself I read the ARC version of the novel so that may account for my muddled feelings but welllet s just get on with it I really liked how Cassandra and her twin, Paul were characterized There seems to be a gravity to them, in them that you normally don t find in protagonist almost a melancholy in their characters Also, they are metis and are inheritors of the years and years of violence, injustice and discrimination done to them by the Colonizers A history that is being repeated in their time as they are the only group of people immune to the mysterious plague that has thrown the rest of the world into chaos Okay First sticking point here The plague is obviously an important part of the novel as is the immunity of the First Nations people but there is not much attention given to both of these things I wanted to know what exactly the plague is, how many people had died, was it the same thing around the world, and who are these non Others who are dying Are they made up of white people or are other countries and races affected the same way or do they not even exist any considering their lack of access to the First Nations people Also, why are the First Nations people What is in their blood that makes them immune Have the white people ruling body tries to reproduce whatever is in their blood to make their antidote and if not, why not Things like these are what makes books so difficult to write but are what holds a book together The little details that somehow become the most important ones by their absence I was interested in the world Knutsson created and that is exactly why I want to know about it.The story moves to what I read is a mythical representation of Vancouver Island and as I said, I really like Cassandra, Paul and their father so I continued reading and I am glad I did Shadows Cast by Stars is rich in mythology, culture and legend It has a different flavour of paranormal that has not been represented in the YA genre before as far as I know so I found it absolutely enriching and fascinating to read about the different Gods and supernatural creatures that populated the pages of the novel Usually when you come across Native Indian mythology in YA novels, it is of the American flavor and I think this is the first time I ve come across stuff that has a uniquely Canadian taste to it and I loved that I also loved how detailed but not overwhelmingly so the description of every day life is Also, the way the conflicts that play out between Paul and Cassandra is also intriguing Cassandra s love for her brother is obvious in her concern for him and I found that relationship to be much interesting than the romance Which brings me to my second sticking point There are tinges of insta love in this Tinges because it is not quite In fact, I am not sure why Cassandra loves Bran or if she even loves him There is an ambiguity to her feelings, a mystery to them so that even though she is with him, she goes through all the motions that say she loves him, it doesn t seem like she does There was insta love but none of the following dramatic love and melodrama that are so characteristic of insta love In fact, Cassandra is remarkably self contained which made me like her There is a love triangle but of a different variety than the usual in that the third side of the triangle starts off as a hostile character who may or may not have reformed by the end of the novel.The plot is a bit blurry and lacks the clarity and the sharpness that I would have liked It has a lot of abstract action by which I mean that there is a lot of metaphysical stuff occurring which is okay for me but I fear that some readers may get lost in all of it What I liked a whole lot was how the action is evenly distributed through the novel so there is no one chapter of action and 74 chapters of dithering And the end of the novel is poignant and though there is no cliff hanger, Knutsson does create a logical bridge to the next novel which means that I will wait anxiously for the sequel because I have a soft spot for Paul I kinda wish that the sequel would be from Paul s perspective but I am not sure I am willing to lose Cassandra s point of view Okay, this doesn t really have anything to do with reviewing but considering that I am a lit major, I couldn t help but notice how interestingly the women in the novel were portrayed There s obviously Cassie but there are also three mother figures who are as different as can be Bran s mom is certifiably insane, Madda iswell, what anyone would expect a mystical healer to be and there s Cassie s Mom who iswell, you ll have to read it to find out Then there are the three girls Cassie, Avalon and um another character who I really liked but whose name I don t remember at the moment And three boys Cedar, Paul and Bran I wonder what it is with the number three and if it s a coincidence or if there is a deeper meaning to it I m probably just reading too much into it.Anyway, in conclusion, I recommend this novel Strongly recommend it because even with its faults, it contains a rich world where the line between folklore and reality is very thin Where survival is than staying alive and a world where monsters may just be the only allies you have.


  7. says:

    Look at the pretty cover Ahem This was a unique book I ve read books that look into First Nation culture before Keeper n Me, April Raintree, but I ve never read a futuristic, dystopian, fantasy that centered around Aboriginal culture It was a really neat experience It was a positive experience, because this book told its story really well, and the words flowed There were a lot of good things, and as is my custom, I ll start with those 1 The setting The setting was really, very cool The island was rich in detail, and both beautiful and dark by turns There were times when the reader and Cass both felt the beauty of the forest and nature, and then times we felt the horror of what lurks underneath, out of this world 2The characters They were generally not always, and not all of them well rounded A lot of aspects about Cass I liked except the occasional stupid moment where she keeps second guessing herself and Madda Argh but even the annoying moments added to her character and I found myself accepting them and her The only thing about her that I found really, really annoying well, that ll come later However, the other characters were also good Madda, for instance, I loved Helen, I also loved Adelaide Paul, sometimes Bran, sometimes And Grace Oooh, boy, she was an interesting, nutty lady 3 The relationship between Cass and her father In so many YA novels, the parents basically don t exist It s just the kids This is something that has irked me for many years My parents and the grown ups in my community have had such an impact on me through the years I would not be who, or what I am if it weren t for my parents, and the people who I ve come to think of as second parents, or aunts and uncles In this book, Cass talked to her father Maybe her father didn t accompany her on her journey, but he was there Madda, too, was an adult who was there and invested in Cass I appreciated that 4 The Mythology One part frightening, one part mystifying, and one part squirm inducing it was completely enthralling Crazy, yes, but interesting to read about As good as this book was, there are reasons for the shaved off star Yes, it was not perfect What book is Besides Unwind 1 Cassandra s infernal obsession with Bran She meets him once ONCE And she s feeling the butterflies inside and going all, oooh She claims that she was a girl who would never pay attention to boys What girl who never pays attention to boys suddenly find herself head over heals after ONE MEETING Doesn t happen, or if it does, it s not love, it s attraction which is a completely different kettle of fish.HOWEVER, I appreciated that she didn t get drawn into a stupid love triangle because another guy was pining for her She turned him down and didn t try to lead him own Good girl 2 Paul s constant crappy attitude I get a lot of why Paul is like he is, but couldn t there have been some good stuff Just for a few scenes Pleeaase I wanted a reason to like him I longed for a reason to respect him 3 I wish that the world was better explained The plague could have been explained The world building was decent, but not amazing, and I wish there had been that extra push Other than that, this book was pretty impressive I think I ll take a deeper look into Catherine Knutsson s books.


  8. says:

    Well, I liked it I guess a lot of people thought the blurb was misleading The synopsis makes it sound like of a Hunger Games y, Divergent y, post apoc y dystopia kind of thing, when really this book is of a magical fantasy Frankly, I m relieved I m sick of dystopias What I got out of this was much interesting a spiritual journey, a kind of coming into power or self discovery fantasy about a young woman who gets to actually, you know, do stuff She spends the majority of the book learning to be the apprentice to the local medicine woman, and then spends the rest of the book on a rescue mission, saving lives and journeying into the world of spirit to right some pretty grievous wrongs There are some moments in this book that are genuinely frightening and horrifying Knutsson does not gloss over the gory parts of the spiritual stuff she s working with here There s ambiguity and nuance, which is great This book is obviously part one of a series the ending was an obvious set up for a sequel, and I hope one comes, because I d be interested to read it.You don t see a lot of books with Native protagonists, and what I liked about this is that it is very much a Native story, not just a story with some brown people tossed in for diversity s sake The mythology and history of the people and the land are beautifully interwoven with the struggles of a young girl in a futuristic setting not too different from ours, and the book recalls mythology from other parts of the world in interesting and fresh ways I don t think it s a spoiler to mention that the name Cassandra was very obviously deliberately chosen You used to see that name picked a lot for YA protagonists for no other reason than because it sounded cool, but there s a point to it here.The book is light on romance, though it definitely exists, especially in the first half Cassandra falls for a boy and there s another boy who later develops feelings for her But romance is never the focus of the story, instead it is, for the first three quarters or so, about the relationship between Cassandra and her new mentor, Madda, as well as the changing and dwindling relationship between Cassandra and her twin brother Paul.The book is not perfect, which is why I gave it four instead of five The plot kind of circles around itself in frustrating ways Sometimes things kind of just happen arbitrarily because Knutsson needed them to happen, and then aren t explained, like when the Band goes to war when the UA comes for them Like, they leave, some very significant stuff happens to Paul and Cassandra, and then they come back and it never comes up again I don t know.Knutsson introduces the concept of a Plague and the fact that indigenous people are the only ones whose blood produces antibodies to combat it, antibodies that apparently this hyper advanced society cannot reproduce artificially, and so they start harvesting the blood of indigenous people for the good of all This sounds like a major plot point, but ends up being stuff that s going on in the background, and is mostly just the impetus for the Native peoples in this book to isolate themselves from the rest of the world And don t get me wrong, the whole the government is literally harvesting the blood of Native people thing is a pretty pointed metaphor, I would have liked to see done to explore that, but maybe it s coming in book 2 or 3 I wish Cassandra had a little of a personality she s kind of a cipher, and sometimes seems a little slow to pick up on what should be obvious, or unwilling to ask important questions at the right time Cassandra s moments of sass and spine, though, are pure gold There were some really interesting minor characters in this, like Grace and Avalon, two white women with some pretty severe problems of their own I like what Knutsson does with Avalon, I didn t really like it up until a certain point when she kind of subverts an obvious and overdone YA trope I m really interested in reading about characters like Helen, who I hope has a bigger role and character development if when a sequel ever comes out Madda is a really great character, I loved her, she toed the line of a trope that can get really tiresome but she always felt like a real person I don t want to spoil too much but I hope she comes back.Sorry this isn t a very fun review, it s hard to make reviews about books that didn t make me want to nuke the surface of the earth entertaining Sometimes I just feel obligated to leave nice reviews for books that deserve attention, like this one ALSO TO PROVE THAT I DON T JUST PICK BOOKS TO READ BECAUSE I KNOW I LL HATE THEM SHH SHHHH.


  9. says:

    I was so impressed by this book I loved the fact that Cassandra, the protagonist, was so multi faceted Not only was she strong and courageous, but she was also loving and giving, and therefore very appealing The author, Catherine Knuttsson, wove in First Nations mythology, the supernatural, and herbal medicine as she told the story of a family in the future, trying to survive in a land at a time when so much was uncertain It seemed that with every chapter, things couldn t get worse, and yet they did, over and over again, keeping me glued to the page and up at all hours of the night I call that a good read.


  10. says:

    Strange, beautiful, and utterly original, SHADOWS CAST BY STARS is a breathtaking read that takes us into a whole new breed of YA dystopia one flavored by Native Canadian folklore, the spirit world and mysterious plagues, totems and shades, wild women and humming monoliths And at the center of it all is a brave, resourceful, remarkably self possessed even when she doesn t think so heroine named Cass.Check out this haunting gem of a book You won t regret it.