Tarnished Are The Stars by Rosiee Thor
My Rating: 5/5
The Lunar Chronicles meets Rook in this queer #OwnVoices science-fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Sharon Cameron.
A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: an illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog — donning the moniker Technician — to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner’s tyrannical laws.
Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner’s son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father’s respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father’s elusive affection is worth chasing at all.
Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner’s secrets at any cost — even if it means betraying her own heart.
When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic — before the Commissioner ends them first.
Warning: Surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, child death, physical violence, verbal abuse, physical abuse, ableism, classism.
There was nothing quite like the first tick of a new heart.
For a while now I’ve been reading a lot of science fiction books with interesting ideas at how humanity expanded to the stars. I’ve barley read enough queer books and as a gay man I am deeply ashamed of it. So imagine my relief when a friend over at twitter recommended this book and it was the book I needed with a genre I love and a piece of representation in young adult genre. I was not wronged and infact I don’t think I’ll be able to forget Tarnished are the Stars for a very long time.
Anna was a trained mechanic. She was a good mechanic. Most everyone in Mechan needed tech to live but preferred to be ignorant of its functionality. Maybe it was better they didn’t know the fragility of their clockwork hearts. He wasn’t wrong. But he wasn’t exactly right, either.
“Fixing machinery is saving lives.”
Deirdre-Anna lives in Mechan, a little settlement on Earth-Adjacent, where humanity after earth got destroyed traveled to the stars in hoping of finding a new planet and terraform it to become their new home. Sadly living in Earth-Adjacent isn’t all flowers and daises, people are getting sick with a mysterious heart disease called Tarnish. Live couldn’t be any worse, except technology is heavily limited and prohibited by the law. Anna secretly works her best with her grandfather Thatcher to provide new mechanical hearts for those who are afflicted, installed prosthetic or make living a little bit better who those who need the reliance of technology to survive. Anna is immediately likable protagonist but reckless. I love her a lot and through her you experience the world in a very believable way.
Disloyal and dishonorable he might be, but he was also determined. He would become an expert, and he would show the Commissioner that he– Nathaniel, the frail boy who’d failed him over and over again– was truly the very best among them.
Nathaniel Fremont is such a soft little boy. Living in his father’s shadow, the Commissioner’s Earth-Adjacent, and being disappointment terrorizes him his entire life. He can’t seems to live to his father’s exceptions and nor can hide their terrible secret that Nathaniel has a mechanical heart, the very thing his father is appealed and fights against on a daily basic. When word gets out the Technician, once again, escaped capture and continuing his forbidden work on human-augmentation. Nathaniel finds the perfect way to win his father’s love and respect. He’d succeeded where everyone else failed before him. Nathaniel is one that grows so much throughout the book and you can’t but admire how a sheltered boy becomes this self-confident young man who’s no longer require anyone’s opinion or acceptance.
If Nathaniel was a rusty blade, unpracticed and unfocused, she’d teach him to be sharp, then guide him straight through his father’s heart to take his place. The Queen needed something from the Commissioner, and if this one would not bend, she’d make sure the next one would.
Eliza is the Queen’s eyes, her blade, her limbs, her spy. She’d do whatever the Queen requires of her. She’d sacrifice anything, including her own feelings to achieve her dream to inherit the throne. Eliza is probably my favorite of all the three. She’s ambitious, calculated, hilarious and full of so much hidden emotions underneath her determination to win the Queen’s approval and her place at her side. You aren’t certain if she’d truly stay at her side, allied with Anna and Nathaniel or use them for her own plans. She’s such a perfect complex layered character that I love. In a way she kinda reminds me of Holland from Shades of Magic but without the blood magic and no scoffing.
“Maybe not all tech,” he murmured at last, a whisper he’d never repeat.
“Not all tech?” Anna asked incredulously. “So what tech is acceptable? Should I deny an armless boy a prosthetic arm? What about my client who can’t walk without a metal leg? Or you? Whose request should I deny? The settlement won’t help you, with or without tech, so where do i draw the line? Or is that privilege reserved only for the wealthy?”
I think the world building and the discussion of technology and it’s usage is and how it comes to play with both the plot and the characters. Anna makes a valuable point that technology is needed to help people and how those in power abuse that in their favor and still discriminate against disabled people. It struck so real to me because I’ve seen it multiple times in life with some of my co workers who were mentally-ill or with autism, individuals back in my army days with cerebral palsy or paralyzed with their legs and how awful people treated them. Rosiee does excellent job not only with discussion about the proper management of technology but with its queer representation like I never seen before in a book. The characters are not define by their sexuality or their attraction but I love how Eliza explained to Nathaniel the basics of it and I wished when I was at his age would had the same talk about it. It would had helped me tremendously. The writing and pacing is excellent, and the romance is just what I love, slow, obvious attraction on both sides and feelings getting in the way.
If you want a good science-fiction standalone book with LGBTQ+ content then look no further and purchase a copy of Tarnished Are The Stars. You’d not regret it 🙂
Is it Diverse? Aro/Ace Main Lead, Bisexual/Demisexual Main Lead, Lesbian Lead, Disability representation in both Main character and supporting characters and F/F Romance.