Stardust in Their Veins: Castles in Their Bones, Book 2
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stardust in Their Veins is the sequel to Castles in Their Bones, by Laura Sebastian (the Ash Princess trilogy). Like in the first book, most deaths are from poisonings and many other characters are drugged into unconsciousness. Boys are kidnapped and held at knifepoint; some die or are injured in skirmishes with knives, swords, and arrows; and there's one death from an explosion with body parts strewn about. The deaths of a princess by guillotine and a prince from illness are remembered and grieved heavily by their families. Women in power are still ruthless in this story and use the younger women to achieve their aims. Unlike Book 1, the younger women are less the pawns here -- great -- but also feel less remorse as they kill those in standing their way. There's drinking again, but not heavily by the teen main characters. And there's more talk of brothels and courtesans than actual sexual content, with only a kiss and characters falling asleep together clothed.
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What's the Story?
In STARDUST IN THEIR VEINS: CASTLES IN THEIR BONES, BOOK 2, Princess Beatriz, exiled in a Cellarian Sororia in the Alder Mountains, is relieved when she has a visitor, even if it's Nigellus, her mother Empress Margaraux's empyrea (magically gifted advisor). Beatriz knows she can't trust him. Still, he offers her an escape from Cellaria with Prince Pasquale and she needs to take it, even if it lands her back in her mother's clutches. Beatriz's sister Daphne, meanwhile is due to get married to her prince in Friv -- all part of her mother's plan -- but knows something dire is set to happen at her wedding, thanks to her ties with the Frivian rebels. Before the I-dos the chapel blows up and Friv's empryea along with it. That setback doesn't stop Daphne's mother from moving her next pawn into place, however. She sends the exiled Empress Eugenia, the one responsible for Princess Sophronia's death, right to Daphne's doorstep to be under her protection. The demands Empress Margaraux makes on her only grow from there, forcing Daphne to decide who's side she's really on, her sisters' or her ruthless mother's.
Is It Any Good?
There's less to love about this spy princess sequel, with less momentum, more pointless deaths, and fewer moments to really connect with the characters' struggles. It's the obvious setup for an exciting third book with a few really great twists near the end to tempt the reader. But until then, we plod along at a slow pace and wait for the triplet's devious mom, Empress Margaraux, to show her hand and make things exciting. Or we wait for things to heat up with Daphne and Bairre, the only kind-of couple in this sequel. But Daphne is too busy deciding whether or not she should kill children on mom's orders to think about her love life. So does she really deserve a star-crossed romance anyway?
It's a long wait for Daphne to come around, and an even longer wait for Beatriz to learn what's so unique about her magical gift. Her lessons with her mother's empyrea make this magical world sound a little boring. It's a magic that relies on wishes and a few prophecies -- not much power in that to counter the Empress with. The only plus is that Daphne and Beatriz will have to gather some truly formidable allies to defeat their mother, and that'll make for a much more compelling finale, one hopes.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about all the poisonings in Stardust in Their Veins. What's the body count by the end of the story? Do you think each death was necessary to keep the main characters from a similar fate? Why or why not?
Talk about the roles the three princesses play in their family. For example, Daphne is the "obedient one." Why do you think it's so hard for the sisters to break out of these roles? If you have siblings, you find your family role defines you? Have you ever tried to step out of your perceived role?
What do you think is next for the princesses? Is their mother really 10 steps ahead of them at every turn? What have they done that their mother never anticipated?
- Author: Laura Sebastian
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Brothers and Sisters
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Delacorte Press
- Publication date: February 7, 2023
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 576
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 10, 2023
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