STAR’S END by Cassandra Rose Clarke – Review

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

STAR’S END by Cassandra Rose Clarke – ReviewStar's End by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Published by Saga Press on March 21 2017
Genres: Adult, Science fiction
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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The nitty-gritty: A thought-provoking family saga set far in the future, with corporate intrigue, secrets and plenty of finely drawn relationships between children and their parents.

Star’s End was not the Cassandra Rose Clarke book I was expecting. But then again, I didn’t really have any expectations when I started, other than I knew that Clarke would deliver something truly unique with lots of emotion and detailed characterization. And I was not disappointed. Star’s End may not be the fast-paced or action-packed space opera that you think you need, but you will emerge from the reading experience a more thoughtful person, I guarantee. Clarke has taken an interesting idea about the dangers of having too much power and turned it into a gripping story about love, trust and ultimately doing the right thing. I was surprised how well this story resonates with present-day culture and politics, and while the author didn’t go out of her way to make a statement, there are one or two truths wrapped up in the story, for those readers who choose to look for them.

Esme Coromina is the eldest daughter of Phillip Coromina, the family matriarch whose mega corporation terraformed a group of four moons that surround a sun-like planet called Coromina I. Always concerned about turning a profit, the Coromina Group is responsible for creating the super, bio-engineered soldiers who protect the star system and act as the ultimate weapons of war. The DNA of a mysterious life form dubbed the Radiance is responsible for the strength and abilities of the soldiers, or “R-Troops” as they are called, but even Esme doesn’t know the real story behind their creation. Esme has grown up her entire life knowing that her father is grooming her to take his place as CEO when he dies, and now, that day may be closer than Esme wants to admit. Phillip has contracted galazamia, a wasting disease that will finally end his three-hundred year life—he’s been getting rejuvenation treatments for years—and his final request is a doozy: he insists that Esme round up her three estranged half-sisters and bring them home before he dies.

But her sisters—Adrienne, Daphne and Isabel—have very good reasons for disappearing. Years ago, Esme inadvertently hurt her little sister Isabel, and now Daphne and Adrienne refuse to speak to her because of it. As Esme begins to search for them, compelled by her father not to fail the last task he gives her, she remembers the terrible events of the past that led to Isabel’s disappearance and Adrienne and Daphne’s refusal to have anything to do with Esme and her father. At the highest levels of the Coromina Group are secrets that not even Esme knows, but when she discovers these secrets, she’ll need to decide what to do with them: follow in her father’s ruthless footsteps and run the company the way it’s been run for years, or forge her own path into the future.

Clarke divides her story into past and present sections, jumping back and forth in order to slowly reveal the story behind the Radiance and the R-Troops. It’s a very slow reveal, so patience is definitely required for this story, but believe me, it’s worth it. I was drawn into Esme’s strange life and her conflicted feelings towards her callous father, and never did I feel the story lag. Clarke is a master at drawing out the mysteries of her futuristic star system, and while I did have several guesses about what was going on, the final reveal was not what I was expecting.

Cassandra Rose Clarke is a genius at writing strong but vulnerable female characters, and Star’s End is no exception. I found Esme to be a brilliantly drawn character, a woman who has been carefully controlled by her father all her life, as he maneuvers her into position to eventually take over his job. Phillip is no dummy: he makes sure that Esme is on board with his vision, without actually telling her all the company’s secrets. And Esme seems to be the perfect daughter: obedient, a hard worker, ambitious and usually willing to follow orders without asking questions. But it’s only a veneer, as the reader soon finds out. Underneath, Esme’s love for her sisters wins out over corporate loyalty, and without her father’s knowledge, she begins to make small changes within the company, knowing that the higher she rises, the easier it will be to effect change.

From the flashbacks, we find out early on that something isn’t quite right with the youngest sister, Isabel. She has a habit of disappearing, and she, Daphne and Adrienne are able to communicate in an odd, guttural language that no one else can understand. In the present, we know that Esme regrets something that happened long ago, something that turned her sisters against her, but the reader is kept in suspense until nearly the end of the story. Little by little, we get to see Esme’s progress as she tries to carry out her father’s last wish, to reunite the family, and although it’s sometimes agonizing to see her struggle, I appreciated the author not taking the easy way out.

One of the more emotional subplots of Star’s End deals with Esme’s birth mother Harriet, who had a one-night stand with Phillip but then gave birth to Esme and left her to go back to her life in the military. Esme and Harriet continue to stay in touch through the years, and Harriet proves to be the one constant person in her life.

And if you’re looking for a story about sisters, then look no further. Clarke wedges a block between Esme and her sisters by giving them different mothers, but Esme, as the oldest, never stops trying to mend their relationship. As in real life, family dynamics are rarely smooth sailing, and this is one hell of a messed up family!

Star’s End didn’t blow me away like Our Lady of the Ice did—I absolutely loved the world-building in that book, and this time Clarke plays it safer, giving us a future that isn’t that much different from our own. But I am highly recommending this for the subtlety of the relationships, the growing mystery and the terrifying themes of how powerful one corporation can be. This is a future well within our reach, and in fact, we may already be living parts of this future and not even know it. It’s scary stuff, but ultimately, Clarke gives us a glimmer of hope. Esme has free will and the ability to change things. You’ll just have to read the book for yourself to find out which direction she decides to take.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.

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Posted March 13, 2017 by Tammy in 4 stars, Reviews / 18 Comments


18 responses to “STAR’S END by Cassandra Rose Clarke – Review

  1. Brilliant review, as always! While I haven’t read all of the author’s work, I have really enjoyed the novels of hers that I have encountered. Added this one to my TBR! I particularly appreciate her worldbuilding – she always seems to have a fresh take on tired concepts.

    • Tammy

      Thanks Hannah! I think my two favorites are Our Lady of the Ice and The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. But this one is excellent too:-)

    • Tammy

      If that’s the case you will love this. It’s always scarier when the world you’re reading about hits a little to close to home, lol.

    • Tammy

      If you enjoyed The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, you will love this too. I give a slight edge to MSD, but this one is still really good.

    • Tammy

      I was a little surprised by that narrative change at first, but I must have gotten used to it because I didn’t even mention it in my review:-)

  2. This is the kind of review that convinces me to try a book without looking for further confirmation: I love the idea of family dynamics, and I like even more the choice of alternating the present with glimpses of the past, moving toward a reveal that, as you say, is not what we were led to believe. Certainly the kind of story that does touch the reader profoundly…
    Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Maddalena@spaceandsorcery recently posted…DUSK OR DARK OR DAWN OR DAY by Seanan McGuireMy Profile

    • Tammy

      I honestly wasn’t sure about the subject matter at first, but she really sucks you in and makes you care about the plight of the planet.

  3. I don’t know why but this book went completely under my radar however your review makes me think that I would like this book a lot, it’s now on my wishlist! 😀

    • Tammy

      I haven’t seen many people talking about it either, which is too bad. I must spread the word!

  4. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child but I absolutely love stories that feature relationships between sisters! The fact that family plays such an important role in this one has me really excited. I’m thinking that this will be my first Cassandra Rose Clarke (although I did buy the bind-up of her pirate stories too).
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Review: Conspiracy of Ravens by Lila BowenMy Profile

    • Tammy

      The sister dynamic is really good! And although there’s plenty of tension, I think it’s handled really well. You also should try Our Lady of the Ice, which is my favorite of hers so far:-)

  5. I have yet to try Cassandra Rose Clarke, but, well, how can I not after reading this review? Lol. I might start with Our Lady of Ice, just because I love stories set in Antartica, and the confinement of living under a dome sounds like it will make for a tense read. It sounds like the author writes emotionally complex work, too, which I also love 😀

  6. I still have to read this author and I must admit that I fancy Our Lady of the Ice first. This sounds good but having a sister – very close in age (in fact both born in the same year if you can believe it – January and December) the sister element could be potentially too close to home. I’ll read the other book first and then…
    Lynn 😀

  7. John Smith

    I’m not sure how I feel about characters named Esme, but it sounds well written!