An "absorbing, expertly written debut...Zuluaga's portrayal of what happens to dreams deferred is beautifully executed." -Publishers Weekly
"The great joy of reading this novel was to be steeped in place, its blackbirds and alligators, its grasslands and rivers, the storms which blew in with regularity, but also for its indelible cast of characters, misfits all, who I grew to love as they forged on with pioneer hope, sowed the grace of second chances, and displayed the generous care of family beyond blood. Claudia Zuluaga has written a powerful novel, rare in its elegance, and Fort Starlight introduces a wonderful new voice into the world of literature."
-Alan Heathcock, author of Volt
"Claudia Zuluaga knows the real Florida, that wild, un-Disneyfied place where people from all over have come to chase their dreams into tenuous subdivisions on lush and mucky land. In her stunning first novel, Zuluaga sets in motion a tense, multi-layered drama which plays out in the barely drained swamps, revealing a fragile and beautiful ecosystem of vivid, eccentric, and absolutely believable characters. Fort Starlight is an explosion of a novel. I savored every word of it."
-Elizabeth Stuckey-French, author of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady
"Claudia Zuluaga has created a heady, humid world that feels part tropical fairy tale and part economic cautionary tale. In her gifted hands, Florida's natural world feels as riveting as the hopeful but hard-pressed characters who populate its tenuous landscape. Fort Starlight is both beautiful and strange, a mesmerizing and singular novel."
-Michelle Wildgen, author of Bread and Butter and You're Not You
"Claudia Zuluaga has given us a heart-felt page turner out of a parched housing development in South Florida. Reminiscent of Alice Hoffman's Turtle Moon, Zuluaga manages to hold on to the drama and suspense of her story and, at the same time, shared with us her big, generous heart. We care for her characters and their crazy midsummer's night dream the way she cares for them. This makes it all the more difficult to believe that this is the work of a debut novelist and not that of an old hand. In other words she knows how to spin a yarn and it was a pleasure to be caught up for a time in her web."
-Mary Morris, author of Revenge
Zuluaga’s absorbing, expertly written debut explores the intersection of dreams and reality in the bizarre wilderness of Florida’s wetlands. Ida Overdorff, 24, is just passing through the stalled development of Fort Starlight to sell a piece of land before moving to New York City to make it big as a professional baker. But when a corrupt developer takes off with her money, she has to contend with having her future placed on hold. Living in an abandoned and unfinished house, Ida encounters an equally adrift cast of characters: Peter, a rich man’s son escaping his legacy; Nancy, who has put off retirement to care for her terminally ill great-niece; Carter and Donnie, a pair of dirty and neglected children; and Ryan and Lloyd, a gay couple on the rocks who offer Ida real friendship. Ida struggles to recover from her mistakes, and while Fort Starlight doesn’t offer much besides swamps and alligators, it lends her newfound perspective and a lesson that blessings can come in unexpected places and people. This novel explores well-tread territory, but its unusual setting in a stillborn real-estate development sets it apart. Zuluaga’s portrayal of what happens to dreams deferred is beautifully executed. (Sept.)