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'We have a new The Handmaid's Tale... an exciting new literary voice with a dazzling imagination' EMMA KENNEDY
'Compelling, menacing and ultimately uplifting, I fell headlong into the world of Body of Stars' SARAH WARD
'Rapturously written and wildly original, Laura Maylene Walter's debut novel maps the dreams and nightmares of girlhood' EMILYY SCHULTZ
'What a gift Laura Maylene Walter has given us in Body of Stars' ANNE VALENTE
No future, dear reader, can break a woman on its own
A bold and dazzling exploration of fate and female agency in a world where women own the future but not their own bodies.
Like every woman, Celeste Morton holds a map of the future in her skin, every mole and freckle a clue to unlocking what will come to pass. With puberty comes the changeling period - when her final marks will appear and her future is decided.
The possibilities are tantalising enough for Celeste's excitement to outweigh her fear. Changelings are sought after commodities and abduction is rife as men seek to possess these futures for themselves.
Celeste's marks have always been closely entwined with her brother, Miles. Her skin holds a future only he, as a gifted interpreter, can read and he has always considered his sister his practice ground. But when Celeste's marks change she learns a devastating secret about her brother's future that she must keep to herself - and Miles is keeping a secret of his own. When the lies of brother and sister collide, Celeste determines to create a future that is truly her own.
Body of Stars is an urgent read about what happens when women are objectified and violently stripped of choice - and what happens when they fight back.
'Part allegory, part warning, and part celebration of the female body, this is a thrilling and flawlessly crafted debut about the potential women have to hold magic, make magic, and change the course of history with the underestimated weapons of intelligence and love.' Courtney Maum, , author of Touch and Costalegre
'Body of Stars sparks with tenderness and beauty, and Walter's writing on the female body is genuine art. A thought-provoking exploration of fate and forced binaries, this is a book that lingers.' Erika Swyler, author of Light from Other Stars and The Book of Speculation
'Laura Maylene Walter's Body of Stars will be enjoyed as a novel that employs the fantastic to inventively explore both the victimization and the power of women in a world very much like our own, but its central pleasure and achievement may be its depiction of a complicated and extraordinarily moving sibling relationship. In Walter's generous and capable hands, Miles and Celeste remind us that love often means damage, and that the true test of love is not avoiding that damage, but repairing it when we've caused it.' Karen Shepard, author of Kiss Me Someone
'A tender rebuke to the idea that biology is destiny, Body of Stars explores the boundaries of family, identity, and predestination. Through the lens of a complex coming-of-age story, Laura Maylene Walter asks us to consider how we can make the future matter when it seems like we already know its outlines, and what the difference is between the destiny of an individual and the fate of a society.' Adrienne Celt, author of Invitation to a Bonfire
In Walter's uneven debut novel (after the collection Living Arrangements), she conjures a fabulist world in which female subjugation, gendered oppression, and rape culture are ever present. Celeste Morton is born like any other girl: with markings like constellations all over her body indicating what her future holds. As she reaches puberty, she comes into the so-called "changeling periods," a weeks-long phase in which young women are irresistible to men. If they're not careful, they could be kidnapped and raped. Celeste's brother, Miles, aspires to become a professional interpreter of girls' markings, a practice forbidden to men, and uses Celeste as training, but over time, Celeste's adult markings contradict Miles's prophecies, which foretell Miles will die at 21. Then, Celeste is abducted by two men, and, after waking up in a hospital covered in bruises, she's forced to enter a rehabilitation program. Meanwhile, Miles's insistence on becoming an interpreter catches the conservative government's attention. While the worldbuilding details are impressive, the critique of rape culture feels shallow and cursory, and the overly earnest characterizations don't help. Readers might want to pass.