It’s hard to know exactly what to make of Of Scars and Stardust. It begins simply enough, with Claire Graham’s birthday, and her life in a small town in Ohio – aptly named Amble – and incorporates elements of a crime novel, mixed with what might be fantasy or might be the delusions of a teenager. What comes out is a choppy, at times confusing read, but also one that is poetic, challenging and gripping.
Claire is more or less a normal teenager living in Amble, with a whimsical little sister, Ella, who adores her and a best friend, Rae, who tells stories about wolves that love the smell and taste of cherries. Rae is a bit of a wildcard, but her brother Grant is dependable and Claire’s love interest. But Claire’s life is turned upside down when her sister is mauled almost to death and the small town blames her. She is shuttled off to New York and made to talk to a psychiatrist, but knows the wolves are still out there…and when Ella disappears, she returns to Amble to track down Ella and prove her innocence.
Andrea Hannah fills the book with some gorgeous prose, and despite the lack of clear plot direction, it’s hard to put it down (as cliche as that is). The uncertain plot is made even more confusing due to the unreliable narration: is Claire actually “crazy”, or is she right about the wolves?
With some unsettling, creepy undertones, Of Scars and Stardust makes you really care about the characters – even side characters are given enough depth to keep you interested and wanting to know more, while the romance is not overwrought or forced at all.
Finally, the ending both provides answers and opens up a whole lot of questions. It’s maddening, especially as we’re finally provided with some solid answers, but so much is left open. It’s possibly the vaguest ending I’ve ever read, which is not bad, but does leave the story lingering in one’s head afterwards.