Reviewed by Jenny Mounfield
The Key to Starveldt—The Rare: book 2
by Foz Meadows
Ford Street Publishing, PB YA 15+, AUD $19.95, ISBN: 978 1 921665 25 7
In book 1, Solace & Grief, readers were introduced to Solace Morgan, a seventeen year old girl raised in care unaware that she is a vampire named in an ancient prophesy. Compelled by a voice in her dreams, Solace left the only home she knew and trekked across Sydney in search of belonging. She found it in a group of misfits known as Rare: those with hidden talents and abilities—young people like Solace who have never quite fitted into society. With these newfound friends she set out to learn of her origins and find her true purpose.
With the key to Starveldt and pages from her mother’s book containing the prophesy in her possession, Solace and friends regroup after the dramatic events at the close of Solace & Grief. As prophesised, there are eight of them, and each has a role to play in the quest for Starveldt.
‘In a place of nameless speaking
bloody-eyed a star is seeking
come will eight of rarest making
in their echoes power waking
in their selves and selves forsaking
From the prophesy (P21)
Making their way to the Rookery, a place of safety that exists within and without the world as we know it, the eight learn that Starveldt is much more than just a castle. Within the castle, the key will open a powerful portal that links to every other portal in existence, thereby giving the key-holder access to an infinity of realms. But just as Solace has the ability to open this portal, so, too, does her brother Grief, who was stolen and raised by the evil Sanguisidera (the Bloody Star). The pair will stop at nothing to posses the key.
Dogged by friends who are foes, foes who may be friends, and guided by visions and the utterances of a telepathic cat, Solace and gang must grasp the key’s full meaning and discover who and what they truly are while wrestling evil and their own rampaging hormones. No easy feat. But hey, they have youth on their side and a bag of tricks up their sleeves, so if anyone can triumph these kids can.
With its shades of Alice in Wonderland, Misfits, Supernatural—and others—this series will delight the Twilight generation. Meadows has handled her large cast of characters with ease; each is as multi-layered and complex as the plot—which really is a slippery thing: easy enough to grasp, but not so easy to hold onto. It twists, squirms and folds back on itself, all the while keeping readers guessing.
The Rare isn’t just a story of good and evil, it’s about friendship, loyalty, belonging and dealing with difference. As Solace tries to resist the lust for human blood encoded in her genes—traits her dark brother has embraced—questions of nature versus nurture, not to mention our ability to choose our own fate, are brought to the fore.
I was bowled over by Meadows’ story-telling skill in book one, and book two has not disappointed. If the first two are anything to go by, the final instalment, Falling into Midnight, should be a cracker.
About the reviewer: Jenny Mounfield is the author of three novels for children and YAs In addition, several of her short stories and articles have appeared both in print and online. She has regularly reviewed children’s books for e-zine Buzz Words since 2006 and is currently working on her first adult novel.