The Forest of Stars by Heather Kassner // A Story of Magic, Grief, and Finding Home

In this mysterious and mesmerizing fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Splendor and Glooms and Circus Mirandus, a windswept girl who can float among the stars searches for her long-lost father at a shadow-filled carnival.

Left all alone after her mother passes away, twelve-year-old Louisa LaRoche watches the sky for her father. Long ago, a powerful gust of wind swept through town, stealing him away on the wings of his untamed magic--the same magic that stirs within Louisa. As if she is made of hollow bones and too much air, her feet never quite touch the ground.

But for all her sky gazing, Louisa finds her fortune on the leaf-strewn street when she spots a gleaming black-and-gold invitation--a ticket to the Carnival Beneath the Stars. If her father fits in nowhere else, maybe she'll find him there, dazzling crowds alongside the other strange and wonderful feats. Only, soon after she arrives, a tightrope act ends disastrously--and suspiciously. As fate tugs Louisa closer to the stars, she must decide if she's willing to slip into the injured performer's role, despite the darkness plucking at the carnival's magical threads.

At the Carnival Beneath the Stars, you'll find wonders you couldn't even dream of. A girl who can control darkness, a boy who moves things with his mind, a fortune-teller who can actually read your misfortune, and now a girl who can float.

Louisa LaRoche has recently lost her mother. She wanders, lost in the world trying to find her father who has the same gift, the power to float in the air. She stumbles upon a ticket to a magical carnival that she believes her father would be at. She ends up staying even when she doesn't find her father after her path out is blocked by dark forces. Increasingly worrying things keep happening to those around her. It's up to her and her new friends to find out what's going on at this magical carnival that seems to have a life of its own. 

A story of magic, grief, and finding home - The Forest of Stars has a Coraline spirit. It can be gloomy yet magical. It can be sorrowful yet hopeful. I enjoyed getting to know Louisa and her new found friends each unique and caring. There are two mysteries happening side by side with one another. One obvious and the other not so much. But even with the obvious mystery, I loved how much I felt engaged with the story. I was talking to Louisa like she was actually there telling her the answers I already knew and she had not figured out yet. The carnival atmosphere was the best. It's been a while since I've read anything like it. I had such a great time listening to the story. The narrator, Fiona Hardingham, did a wonderful job with all the voices. If you read the physical book you can see some perfectly charming illustrations by Iz Ptica

Now the obviousness of one of the mysteries might bother you even if it didn't for me. I also felt like the love bugs weren't properly explained. There are these grief bugs that will eat your heart when you are sad. I don't think everyone needs it to be necessarily explained. It's a metaphor. But, it was introduced oddly and I would have liked more explanation. Other than that I always wish I had more time with the characters. Mainly the side characters. You do get to know them pretty well but I like getting to know my characters completely. 

If you are looking for a book like Coraline, then look no further. The Forest of Stars is perfect for those looking for a magically dark and hopeful story.


  1. I agree-a very memorable and moving story!

    1. Awesome, nice to see someone else read it too. I feel like it's a very unknown middle grade book.


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