Book Review of Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Shizuka Satomi must deliver seven souls to hell after making a deal with the devil long ago. She has already given six souls to hell. Virtuoso violinists exchanged their souls for successful musical careers and fame. If Shizuka does not deliver the seventh soul, her soul will go to hell. A runaway trans young woman named Katrina Nguyen becomes her last student. Meanwhile, Captain Lan Tran arrives on Earth with her family escaping a Galactic War and the Endplague. Music, love, and family bring these three women together in a story about unique characters finding themselves and redemption in unexpected places.

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki is a story like none other. It integrates violins, music competitions, extraterrestrial beings, a demon, deals with the devil, queer relationships, abuse, and new family ties. The structure of the novel is not ordinary either. Moments and events occur in a few paragraphs separated from other sections. The setting and characters do not necessarily change in the following section, which visually interrupts the reading. .

Aoki succeeds at making the reader put themselves in Katrina’s shoes and feel for her. She is a trans young woman running away from abuse and leading a harsh life without a home. Some abuse and sexual scenes, however, are hard to read. For some readers, it might be challenging to identify with Katrina’s choices relating to sex work. Overall, the novel is about beautiful music, new beginnings, and finding a new family, which are uplifting subjects. But there is a darkness to it, too, that suddenly strikes the pages and feels uneasy.

Publishing Year: 2021
Publisher: Tor Books
Ages: 18+

I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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