4.4 26
by Elizabeth C. Bunce

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The 2nd novel from the winner of the ALA's YA Debut Award is Tamora Pierce meets THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER -- a thrilling fantasy about a thief at a snowbound castle, caught in a simmering rebellion .

In a glamorous castle full of Llyvraneth's elite, Celyn Contrare serves as a lady-in-waiting to shy young Merista Nemair. Her days are spent dressing in velvet,


The 2nd novel from the winner of the ALA's YA Debut Award is Tamora Pierce meets THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER -- a thrilling fantasy about a thief at a snowbound castle, caught in a simmering rebellion .

In a glamorous castle full of Llyvraneth's elite, Celyn Contrare serves as a lady-in-waiting to shy young Merista Nemair. Her days are spent dressing in velvet, attending Lady Merista, navigating court gossip, and charming noblemen over lavish feasts.

And at night, she picks locks, steals jewels, forges documents, and collects secrets. Because Celyn isn't really a lady-in-waiting; she's not even really Celyn Contrare. She's Digger, a sneak-thief on the run from the king's Inquisition, desperate to escape its cruel instruments and hatred of magic. If she's discovered, it will mean her certain death.

But life as a lady-in-waiting isn't safe either. The devious Lord Daul knows her secret, and he's blackmailing her to serve as his personal spy in the castle. What she discovers-about Daul, about the Nemair, even about her own Lady Merista -- could signal civil war in Llyvraneth. And for a thief trained never to get involved, taking sides could be the most dangerous job yet.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
On the lam after a failed theft, 16-year-old runaway Celyn bluffs her way out of the city with four young nobles. She finds refuge as maid to one of them, Lady Merista, in a snowbound mountain castle. When Lord Daul discovers Celyn's thieving tendencies, he forces her to spy for him. Delving even deeper into the castle's secrets than she reveals to Daul, Celyn's eyes are opened to the myriad secrets and schemes of its many guests and occupants. In choosing her path, she confronts her own past, uncovers a rebellion that could lead to civil war, befriends a prince, contemplates religious persecution, and faces betrayal. She also encounters long-forgotten magic and comes to understand the mystical aptitude that ruined her life and set her on her path of crime. Couching her characters and setting in top-notch writing, Bunce (A Curse as Dark as Gold) hooks readers into an intelligent page-turner with strong themes of growth, determination, and friendship. Celyn's journey will leave readers asking for more, especially as the first-rate story neatly sets up a sequel. Ages 12�up. (Oct.)
VOYA - Barbara Allen
Digger, a thief, is accidently thrust into a world of privilege and secrets when she accepts helps from noble strangers to escape the local authorities. Digger becomes Celyn, a misplaced noble that does not want to become a member of the church to which her brother sold her, and hides among the rich as a lady's maid to a young girl named Meri. Meri's parents are returning from a post in a distant land just in time for Meri's coming-of-age party. Many suitors and their families are present as the family prepares for the festivities, but is that all they are preparing for? Digger finds herself trapped in a snowy wasteland in the middle of what may become a rebellion. She is forced to spy on her new employers or be exposed as her true self, a thief. In the castle of Bryn Shaer, Digger discovers that everyone has a double motive for being at the festivities for young Meri. Wine merchants are really weapons dealers, and all the suitors are really members of the families for the former rebellion. She must choose which side she is one and if she wants to protect the people who have protected her. Everyone in the castle has secrets, but Digger's may be the biggest of them all. Star Crossed introduces the world of Llyvraneth, a world that outlaws magic and does away with all who do not conform to the king's religion and beliefs. This fast-paced story will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Once you think you have it all figured out, more secrets come out and you find that you were way off base. Reviewer: Barbara Allen
Children's Literature - Cynthia Levinson
Readers of this dystopian fantasy are dropped immediately into the complex, frightening world of Digger, an apparent anti-heroine who is hiding a bloody packet of letters that has proven fatal to her beloved partner. As a master thief and liar, she lives by three rules: stay alive; don't get caught; and don't get involved. To escape the Greenmen, the soldiers of the feared king of the island nation of Llyvraneth, however, she is swept into the society of the nobs, young noble people, and her three rules, including even the first one, are threatened. Disguised as Celyn Contrare, a maid to Lady Merista Nemair, Digger accompanies the Nemairs to their desolate mountaintop castle, as they return from exile following their support for the Sarists, a group who worship an outlawed goddess of magic. Lord Daul, who is supposedly a friend of Meri's father but who is actually gathering evidence to show that the family continues to use magic, knows Digger's true identity and blackmails her into spying for him. As a spy, she learns more than she would like to know, each piece complicating her loyalties as the country prepares for war. Politics, religion, ethics, social relations, and intrigue all propel the story, and readers will be caught up in its fully realized world, language, and multi-faceted characters. Digger turns out to be a resilient, determined, and admirable model for readers. A Lexicon at the back of the book will help readers keep track of its characters and place names. Reviewer: Cynthia Levinson
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Though slow to start, this fantasy quickly gains momentum and clarity. Hiding a bloodied packet of letters after their theft turned deadly for her partner-in-crime, a 16-year-old girl attempts to evade the king's soldiers and flee Gerse. When a quartet of "nobs," nobility-class young people, invites her aboard their river boat, she grabs the opportunity. An experienced liar and thief, Digger takes on the guise of Celyn, a girl escaping her brother's ploy to send her to convent school. She is soon drafted as companion to Merista Nemair and accompanies the group to the Nemairs' remote castle. Merista's parents are returning from diplomatic exile following their involvement with Sarists, the losing opposition in a recent war and worshippers of the outlawed goddess of magic. The family hunkers down in the winter-locked mountains to prepare for Meri's coming-out celebration. Trapped in her role as Celyn, Digger is blackmailed into spying for a villain named Daul, a supposed family friend who is actually seeking evidence of treachery and the illegal use of magic among the Nemair. A mysterious wounded man hidden beneath the stillroom, the dangerous glimmers of magic that Digger sees around Meri, and her own growing affection for the people who may be planning a rebellion complicate matters considerably. If readers forgive the difficulties the plot has in taking off, they will be rewarded with a complex and satisfying adventure story and will look forward to its sequel.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA
Kirkus Reviews

An adolescent thief threads a treacherous labyrinth of politics and sorcery in this fine series opener. Digger knows the rules—Stay Alive, Don't Get Caught, Don't Get Involved—but they're tricky to follow when a job gone sour lands her with a dead partner, brutal Greenmen on her trail and a cushy hideout as an aristocratic lady's maid. Blackmailed into spying on her kindly employers, she's soon juggling a dizzying tangle of plots, betrayals and lies, desperate to preserve the most dangerous secret of all...her own. The narrative plunges immediately into action with a daunting barrage of arcane names, places and concepts, but determined readers are rewarded with an enthralling yarn of magical intrigue, all in Digger's irresistible voice—clever, cynical, cocky, with an undercurrent of aching loneliness. Given that everyone in one faction is warm, generous and wise and their opponents uniformly vicious, spiteful and cruel, it's not hard to guess which way Digger will jump; it's downright impossible not to follow wherever her quick tongue, nimble fingers and itchy feet will carry her next. (Fantasy. YA)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
820L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Elizabeth C. Bunce's first novel, A CURSE DARK AS GOLD, won the ALA's William C. Morris Award for a YA debut. Elizabeth cuts, sews, and embroiders both cloth and stories at her home near Kansas City, Missouri. Please visit her website at

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Starcrossed 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's nice to see a young adult book that steers clear of idealized romance in favor of developing well-rounded characters who engage in an original plot set within a credible fantasy world. I look forward to reading the sequel.
bookworm3210 More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up because I kept hearing that it was somewhat similar to one of my favorite series. I was a little skeptical and it turned out that the only similarity was that the main characters in both books were thieves. But this book was amazing! The characters come alive and the book keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a non-conventional heroine and loves an action packed book!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
In a country filled with tension and betrayal, Digger has a past that she's desperate to hide. One night, when things get out of control, she flees her old life. On the run, she comes across a group of people leaving the city, and she manipulates her way onto their ship. She makes up a name and a convenient background. Digger becomes Celyn. As the group finds their way home, Celyn tags along. Reluctant to leave and cross boundaries without the proper papers, Celyn stays. She reinvents herself as a lady-in-waiting, attaching herself to Lady Merista. Digger plans to leave Lady Merista the first chance she gets. However, circumstances change and, before she knows what's happened, she's snowbound in a castle. Even worse, someone in the castle knows about her past. He's using that against her in order to find out more about her hosts. While she feeds him information, hating herself for it, she stumbles onto large secrets. She gives him just enough to keep him happy, all while trying to unravel the secrets for herself. After a slow start, STARCROSSED picks up with danger, romance, magic, double crossings, and secrets. Celyn's smart-aleck ways add touches of humor to an otherwise serious read. The action and danger of Celyn sneaking about the castle while uncovering clues and discovering secrets moves the plot along quickly. I couldn't wait to discover what she would uncover next, and I look forward to her next adventure.
Fantastic_Book More than 1 year ago
STARCROSSED lured me into dangerous webs of Digger's life as she ried to outrun the Greenmen (temple guards of the Goddess Celys but they report directly to the King) after a successful job of retrieving important letters from the King's secretary. As with any fantasy novel, STARCROSSED has plenty of important characters and places that are uniquely tied to the plotline which had me trying to wrap my head around each of the character's motives and beliefs while trying to fit the puzzle pieces together to uncover hidden secrets. As I was reading along, I decided to write out the names and places so I would have the spelling correct, then my list started to look like a glossary. But don't fret! The book has a Lexicon of terms in the back which is very helpful if you have problems following along. STARCROSSED has a wide range of personalities but the main heroine, Digger is one of those characters you can't help but like. She's led an interesting and danger filled life as a thief. Her unique magical skill has made her a valuable asset in the streets of Gerse. Through her eyes, I experienced firsthand the dangers that shroud her life. She's brave and she's always looking for the next priceless commodity or escape route which had me laughing plenty of times at how her mind works. If I had to sum Digger up, I'd say: She's trapped within a chain of lies and secrets so complex that she's beginning to find out it isn't as easy as her skill at picking locks. Another character that kept me guessing was Dual. I wanted to know, what he had up his sleeve. I also wanted to know what he was hiding and what his ultimate goal was for being at the Nemair's. The whole world that Bunce created was mysteriously intriguing which only lured me further and further into STARCROSSED's world of magic, power, politics, and secrets. The whole world of Llyvaraneth, from its lands to the politics, and the people's beliefs of their Gods & Goddesses were quite captivating. I didn't want to put this book down as I followed along as Digger masqueraded as a lady's maid while trying to escape the Greenmen. You never knew what secret was going to be uncovered. STARCROSSED is a well-written novel and I can't wait to see what the sequel has in store for Digger.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book, well written and engaging. All too often I guess all of the suprises before they happen, but not in this book. I loved it, and will read it again and again.
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AngieReed More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this story. It started out slow, but I really got into it. Enjoyed the 2nd book even more.
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Best book i have read in awhile! The book is greatly detailed and wonderful storyline, with easily likeable characters I read this in two days because i just couldn't put it down! I highly recommend to any lovers of heroines, magic and mystery! :)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not quite certain what to make of this delightful novel. It flits acros the boundaries betwen differant familiar stories--the heist, the spy, the detective. And all of it works together to tell a rich narrative.
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honghyun lee More than 1 year ago
I just read this book with no interesr and i realized it is an awesome book!! I recommended this book to other people too also i cant wait for the second book!! Go Digger!>_
SamJackson More than 1 year ago
I am absolutely in love with this story! It's earned top shelf status for my bookshelf, and I'm getting ready to re-read it in anticipation for the next in the series to come out!!
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Zoe Sparks More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It was exciting, and captivating. I cannot wait for the sequel.
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