Starlings by Jo Walton (Book Review)

I received a free copy of this book, thanks to Tachyon Publications and NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinions on the book.

Book Blurb:
An intimate first flight of short fiction from award-winning novelist Jo Walton (Among Others, The King’s Peace).

A strange Eritrean coin travels from lovers to thieves, gathering stories before meeting its match. Google becomes sentient and proceeds toward an existential crisis. An idealistic dancer on a generation ship makes an impassioned plea for creativity and survival. Three Irish siblings embark on an unlikely quest, stealing enchanted items via bad poetry, trickery, and an assist from the Queen of Cats.

With these captivating initial glimpses into her storytelling psyche, Jo Walton shines through subtle myths and wholly reinvented realities. Through eclectic stories, subtle vignettes, inspired poetry, and more, Walton soars with humans, machines, and magic—rising from the everyday into the universe itself.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Genre: Short Stories, Poems, Sci-fi, Fantasy

My Thoughts:

Firstly, I’m honoured to have been approved for a copy of a book by the Nebula & Hugo Award-winning author, Jo Walton.

I don’t read short stories as much as I do novels but occasionally along the way I may pick up one that holds great promise. Starlings gave me mixed feelings.

From a sentient Google to a world where pain can be borne by consenting individuals, to a story of The Wicked Queen’s beginnings told through the eyes of The Mirror, to a time where readers can interact with simulations of dead people; originality is something that’s certainly not lacking in Walton’s Starlings.

Starlings birds & Starlings pale blue eggs
Just LOOK at those powder blue eggs!

Fun Fact: Starlings have diverse and complex vocalizations and have been known to embed sounds from their surroundings into their own calls, including car alarms and human speech patterns. The birds can recognize particular individuals by their calls and are currently the subject of research into the evolution of human language.

You won’t find the twists and satisfying endings that’s usually vital, and expected, for a good short story. But what it lacks in gratification, it almost makes up with its fresh takes on genres saturated with clichés and truly thought-provoking points.

I do want to mention that the author, Jo Walton, herself admitted that short stories are not her forté, I’ll have to agree with her. Though her ingenuity and ability to ask stimulating questions puts her novels on my must-read list!

P.S. It should be 3 stars but I feel like the fresh factor deserves the extra half star😁

Parental Guidance: 13+

Violence – Mild

Sex – Some mention of sexuality. One sexual proposition. Some sensual overtones.

Religion – One story with Jesus but no preaching.

Profanity – Some

Should You Get This Book?:

Get it if:

  • You’re interested in beguiling story ideas
  • You like stories that deal with matters that straddle the line of right and wrong

Don’t get it if:

  • You want your short stories with a twist at the end or satisfying endings(those are few in Starlings)

Grab this now on: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N | Goodreads


27 thoughts on “Starlings by Jo Walton (Book Review)

Add yours

  1. Great review, I don’t read books with short stories because I always want more for the stories so this is not my kind of book. But I am glad you like some of the short stores in this book I absolutely love the beautiful cover as well. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed your review, not just your thoughts on the short story, or your tidbits about starlings, but I enjoyed the set up of your review. I have been trying to prep myself to get into reading short stories and this one sounds very interesting. It kind of gives me Gypsy vibes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, wow, thank you so very much!!! I appreciate your feedback!

      Haha, gypsy vibes! I think this one sticks to sci-fi more, with some fantasy mixed in here and there. Do let me know how you find it if you decide to read this!😘


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