Shea Ernshaw’s A Wilderness of Stars is a decent dystopian western story

A huge thanks to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for the e-arc.

I’ll start by saying this was definitely an enjoyable book, I just didn’t necessarily love it. It was nice as a different little read but didn’t quite end up being what I expected in the end in a way that wasn’t for the better as far as my tastes run. Not to discourage anyone from reading, it just wasn’t quite to my taste, but it was still well written and had a very interesting concept.

The story sees Vega setting off on a journey to find the Architect, who her mother has raised her in preparation of finding as each generation has done previously. However, Vega is the one who finally needs to go in search of this mysterious figure for reasons that aren’t entirely clear in the beginning, beyond finding an answer to the sickness slowly destroying the population. This was the part that initially intrigued me, a mysterious illness killing off mankind and the need to find a cure. This was also the part that ended up being much different than it sounded.

The part that threw me off the most was probably that it read hugely like a Western. I’m not much of a fan of Westerns generally speaking so this was where a bit of my interest was lost. The world is basically a dystopian western world with gunslingers and a deadly disease which results in those outlaw like groups who make there own rules and take whatever they please from those who can’t protect themselves. I’m sure some people would love this, just not something that would typically grab my interest.

I did like the bits and pieces steadily getting revealed that started to explain what was making everyone get sick and how it didn’t end up being some foreign source like I was kind of expecting. I don’t want to give away and spoilers, but the actual reasoning was a very “ahhh I see where this is coming from” moment for me and I enjoyed that.

On to the characters. Cricket was probably one of my favourite characters. She’s tough and hides behind this rough and careless exterior while loving so deeply and giving her all to those she cares about. She’s also a badass which is my favourite kind of female. Vega was interesting in the sense of her role as the Astronomer, but generally speaking was overwhelmed by her sheer naivety (though understandable given the circumstances) and lack of much that made her stand out. While I did like Noah, he was also kind of a predictable character (this could just be me, his background didn’t surprise me at any point) and perhaps the growing bond between Noah and Vega was a bit cliché and sudden for my tastes. This isn’t to say they weren’t interesting characters, just there wasn’t anything that really called to me deeply either.

I will say they last bit if the book really picked up and the intensity of it made it very hard for me to stop reading because I needed to know what was going to happen next and I was so worried about the characters and their fates. At the same time I don’t know how I felt about the actually ending because it was very bittersweet and won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Part of me really likes the route Shea Ernshaw went with it, but I also can’t help being sad about the final events too because there were some tough moments.

The ending does also have me expecting a sequel, and to be frank I hope there is with everything that was left open. Honestly I’d like to see where it might go


By Danielle Plant

An avid reader and runner. I like to spend my spare time with my dogs Reese and Orion.

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