Star-Shot by Mary-Ann Constantine


Star- Shot was the first book which was chosen for inclusion in the Ninja Book Box (unboxing here). The Ninja Book Box focuses on promoting books published by independent publishers, and I was intrigued by this book as I had not heard of it or its publisher, Seren Books, previously. The theme for the box was ‘Slightly Surreal’ so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book…

‘With her eyes closed and the sun on the back of her neck and her milk-white self pressed flat against the building she waits, and listens, beyond the noise of the people on the steps and the patient rumble of school buses and the traffic beyond, and she has never been so beautiful in her whole life,’

Originally published in January 2015, Star-Shot is considered a blend of mystery and fable set in and around Cardiff with the National Museum being central to the story along with the mysterious ‘silence’ that starts to run through the city. In it we meet a variety of characters and the story is told from multiple perspectives which I always find interesting, although I was a little disorientated to start with! The first character we meet is Myra, a lady who spends her break times at a bench near the museum. It is here that her life becomes intertwined with that of various other characters. These include Dan and his toddler son Teddy, a researcher named Luke and a hospital cleaner named Lina amongst others. As the story progresses we see how the characters lives become drawn together in mysterious ways.

‘But I’ll come back tomorrow, and I think, if you won’t tell me, that I can tell you what happened on the steps. But this is too much now.’

Star-Shot is an unusual story about ordinary people and how they are bought together in extraordinary circumstances. There were times when I felt a little lost in terms of the plot and establishing the voices of the characters but this adds to the mysterious, ambiguous nature of the book, and as it progressed and the characters lives start to meld together things became a little clearer. What is clear is that this is a story about how we connect with others and how our lives fit in with the busy world that surrounds us. Each of the characters has an interesting story to tell and as we see more details about their lives we see the numerous issues that affect them. Through these characters Constantine has dealt with themes of grief and loss, illness and displacement. It is a story filled with intrigue and humanity, which is beautifully written.

‘He isn’t afraid. Out in the dark, he thinks. Though it isn’t snowing, of course. Still, out in the dark, the fallow doe…fast as the stars are slow.’

Start-Shot was an unusual, interesting book that kept me guessing. It is a strange novel which portrays very human stories, told with warmth.

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