In this mysterious and mesmerizing fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Splendor and Glooms and Circus Mirandus, a windswept girl who can float among the stars searches for her long-lost father at a shadow-filled carnival.
"Kassner’s writing dazzles . . . a tale of hope, courage, and friendship." —Newbery Honor winner Ingrid Law
Left all alone after her mother passes away, twelve-year-old Louisa LaRoche watches the sky for her father. Long ago, a powerful gust of wind swept through town, stealing him away on the wings of his untamed magic—the same magic that stirs within Louisa. As if she is made of hollow bones and too much air, her feet never quite touch the ground.
But for all her sky gazing, Louisa finds her fortune on the leaf-strewn street when she spots a gleaming black-and-gold invitation—a ticket to the Carnival Beneath the Stars. If her father fits in nowhere else, maybe she’ll find him there, dazzling crowds alongside the other strange and wonderful feats. Only, soon after she arrives, a tightrope act ends disastrously—and suspiciously. As fate tugs Louisa closer to the stars, she must decide if she’s willing to slip into the injured performer’s role, despite the darkness plucking at the carnival’s magical threads.
In The Forest of Stars, Heather Kassner weaves a spectacle of wondrous magic, unexpected friendship, and dark secrets.
Featuring illustrations by Iz Ptica.
* "Irresistible." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Like the carnival at its heart, this story is richly magical and delightfully eerie." —Cassie Beasley, New York Times bestselling author of Circus Mirandus
Hungry, homeless, and having lost her mother to the love bugs that devoured her grieving heart, Louisa LaRoche, 12, is intent on locating her father, who "lost his grasp on the world" and floated out a window before she was born. Finding a golden ticket to the Carnival Beneath the Stars, Louisa meets a crew of magical beings, including "Boy Beast" Strong the Ox, "Shadow Spinner" Mercy, and "Misfortune Teller" Fiona. Summoned as a mystique for her ability to levitate, the girl finds home and family in the carnival until bewitched shadows threaten, turning Louisa and her friends against one another. When one of the performers stands accused of stealing the troupe's magic, Louisa navigates red herrings to discover who is behind the shadows. Kassner (The Bone Garden) creates an enchanted, lyrical tale with atmospheric scenes among Louisa, her friends, and guardian Quiet Si, half man, half marionette; Ptica's black-and-white illustrations infuse the novel with the carnival's eerie warmth. Though an abundance of poetic description can slow the narrative, Kassner's theme, that family is where you find it, shines poignantly. Ages 8 12.