Terrilynn Moore

Publisher: Laurel Elite Books Pages: Price: (hardcover) $29.99 ISBN: Reviewed: May, 2023

Starla is a young adult fantasy novel set in the small town of East Pine, Colorado.

When Starla Harris is 12, her father is killed in a storm and a mysterious, ghostly figure appears, taking a stone and watch from his pockets before his body melts into the ground and disappears. Three years later, another storm arrives, bringing with it an evil creature known as “Hel” who attacks Starla’s grandmother and takes over her home as it searches for something hidden in her basement. Hel’s arrival is the spark for Starla learning about her own magical powers, her family’s rich history, and the Morning Glory Warriors who protect East Pine from the forces of evil.

Starla is a richly imagined story full of drama and fantasy elements, including dragons, parallel dimensions, powerful potions, and magical creatures. The authors have created a complex multiverse where a seemingly ordinary late-1960’s American town is home to the Morning Glory Warriors, a group of dedicated individuals who use magical stones and timepieces to fight evil in all its forms.

Complexity, however, is the story’s downfall. The novel features a large, confusing cast of characters and multiple viewpoints. Transitions in the story between time and place are often jarring, making the plot hard to follow. Important characters—notably Dougie, Starla’s friend with whom she’s told to work closely to help defeat Hel—disappear from the story for long periods of time, while minor characters, such as a corrupt mayor and a lascivious preacher, are described in unnecessary detail.

Additionally, characters often have multiple names; for example, Starla’s grandmother is called Ma Mère, Mrs. Harris, Marie Sabine Harris, and Nasilele, and the evil creature Hel is also known as Fake Mrs. Harris and Chriizshnac Vulgaria de Hoel. Minor characters often have nicknames, for example, Mrs. Wycliffe/Mrs. Wy and Jimmy George/Jimmy G, adding to the confusion.

Starla has potential but requires significant revision before it’s likely to attract an enthusiastic audience.