ARC Review: Stardust in Their Veins by Laura Sebastian

Today’s review is about STARDUST IN THEIR VEINS, the sequel to Laura Sebastian’s CASTLES IN THEIR BONES. If you appreciated the politics and plotting in the first book, rest assured they continue in this one. Note that my review contains spoilers from CASTLES IN THEIR BONES.

Author: Laura Sebastian
Series: Castles in Their Bones #2
Age Category: Young Adult
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publish Date: February 7, 2023
Print Length: 576

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Official Synopsis

Immerse yourself in the second book in a fantasy trilogy from the New York Times bestselling author of the Ash Princess series. The sequel to Castles in Their Bones is the story of three princesses and the destiny they were born for: seduction, conquest, and the crown.

Princesses Daphne, Beatriz, and Sophronia have trained their entire lives for one purpose: to bring down nations. Their mother, Empress Margaraux of Bessemia, is determined to rule the continent of Vesteria, and her daughters are her weapons. Promised for marriage since birth, they are her ticket across enemy lines. And also her decoys.

Still, not even Empress Margaraux can control the stars. Sent to their new kingdoms, orders in hand, the princesses have found their own paths, changing the course of their mother’s plans entirely–and tragically. Sophronia chose love, and for that, she lost her life.

Daphne and Beatriz can hardly believe their sister is dead, but both are determined to avenge her. And now, separated by a continent–and their mother’s lies–they see more clearly with every passing day that they might not be working toward the same end.

The stars whisper of death, but Daphne and Beatriz are just beginning to understand the true power coursing through their veins. And their mother will do anything to keep them under her thumb–even if it means killing them all.

My Review

I received a free, digital, advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.

STARDUST IN THEIR VEINS is the sequel to CASTLES IN THEIR BONES, which ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger. Sophronia’s death is fresh on the minds of Beatriz and Daphne. As years of planning begin to play out, the remaining sisters begin to see what their mother has in store, whether or not they want to believe it.

I think my favorite aspect of STARDUST IN THEIR VEINS was watching Beatriz and Daphne learn to trust themselves more. The triplets were born and raised to take down kingdoms. But they couldn’t imagine in their wildest dreams that Empress Margaraux would kill her own daughters to achieve penultimate reign. Now Beatriz and Daphne face a crisis in faith about their mother and they must decide to honor Sophronia’s death or appease the empress. Sophronia’s death was a sobering moment and a hard lesson they can now either heed or ignore.

This book is heavier on the plotting and thwarting than its prequel and, as a result, I thought the pace was slower. I think every moment is important to the story and sets the stage, though, for the final book. So rest assured there is a purpose. But I did find myself skimming some passages. I like to try and guess what each person is up to in these types of books. There were enough moving pieces, though, that I gave up (in a good way) and went with the flow.

Like CASTLES IN THEIR BONES, the romance is minimal, which, lately, I tend to prefer when I read Young Adult fantasy books. I also think this lack of romance fits the story, so to speak, as there is plenty of suspicion and distrust to go around. However, I am rooting for one potential avenue of romance, but who knows what the author has up her sleeve!

There is a little more worldbuilding in this installment since Sophronia’s death shook up the game. However, the bulk of the story focuses on interactions between the various characters rather than exploring the three kingdoms. The reader becomes privy to a little more of the star magic system introduced in the first book. It’s really more of a tease in this sequel, though, so I hope we learn even more in the final book.

Although I enjoyed CASTLES IN THEIR BONES a little more, overall STARDUST IN THEIR VEINS is a solid sequel. This YA fantasy is a perfect read for those who prefer a heavy dose of political machinations and subterfuge with a sprinkle of romance, magic, and worldbuilding. I’m looking forward to the grand finale of this trilogy.

Rating: 4
Content warnings: death
Reading format: Kindle e-book

5 thoughts on “ARC Review: Stardust in Their Veins by Laura Sebastian

  1. I had seen Castles in Their Bones floating around on booksta last year but hadn’t heard much about the premise or if people even liked it. I didn’t recognize the sequel since the covers are so different, but I’m intrigued based on your review! I may have to check out this series.

    1. Yea, considering this author had a bestseller YA fantasy series before this, I surprisingly also didn’t see much about this new series last year or much this year. It’s a good series for readers who don’t care so much about the romance aspect that has no become so entwined with fantasy these days. Although, who knows what book 3 will hold! I highly recommend this author’s Adult debut, HALF SICK OF SHADOWS. It’s a feminist Arthurian retelling and it really got me in the feels.

  2. Hi! Great review. I’ve been debating picking up this series for a while now but I really am not a fan of heavy romance in my fantasy anymore and prefer it more of a subplot. So this review pointing out that it is minimal has pushed me into finally picking up the first book so thank you! I had a quick question though – are there any LGBTQ+ characters in the series?

    1. Thank you, Katrina! The romance is very much a subplot and the focus is definitely more so on the game of thrones, so to speak. There are a couple of LGBTQ+ characters (specifically, two gay males). One is a secondary character and the other is a tertiary character. They’re introduced in the first book and take on a relatively larger role in the second book. Hope that helps!

      1. Awesome!! I’ve definitely bumped up the first book as my new read on my TBR! It sounds exactly like the type of political fantasy YA I’ve been looking for lately!

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