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The Star-spun Web

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  329 ratings  ·  94 reviews
With her passion for scientific experimentation and her pet tarantula Violet, Tess de Sousa is no ordinary orphan. When a stranger shows up at Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings, claiming to be a distant relative come to adopt her, Tess hopes to find some answers to her mysterious origins. But as she adjusts to her new life at Roedeer Lodge, it becomes clear that Nort ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 7th 2019 by Stripes Publishing
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Average rating 4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  329 ratings  ·  94 reviews

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Schizanthus Nerd
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One thought was so urgent that it drowned out all the others: she’ll only be two worlds away - will it be enough?
Tess is my kind of heroine. She’s smart, stubborn, determined and a good friend. She conducts scientific experiments in a raincoat that’s seen better days and her lab is otherwise known as the detention room. She has a pet tarantula named Violet and will quite happily ruin brand new clothes by climbing up a chimney. Oh, and she can travel between different realities!
“Could it
Laura Noakes
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
I loved Sinead’s debut, THE EYE OF THE NORTH, so I literally squealed when THE STAR-SPUN WEB turned up on my doorstep. It did not disappoint.
This was if Diana Wynn Jones and Phillip Pullman had a literary baby. BIG COMPARISONS, but boy does it earn them. It tells the story of Tess, an orphan who was left on the door of a foundling home as a baby with a mysterious object. When a strange man who claims to be her long-lost relative turns up to take her away from Ackerbees, and the guardians and fel
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Meet Tess de Sousa. She lives in Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings, has a pet tarantula called Violet, and is a budding scientist. Not only that, but Tess wears glasses.

As an odd start to a review as that may seem, when I started reading The Star-spun Web, I was ecstatic to see a young, female protagonist wearing glasses and she has to clean them from time to time. As someone who wears glasses and knows the pain of constantly searching for something to clean them with (where DO those smudg
Kieran Fanning
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The cover art, boy/girl MC and subtle steampunk setting makes this the perfect companion to O' Hart's first title. But this is quite different too. Tess is a plucky heroine, with a cute sidekick in the form of a pet spider. The plot is action-packed and full of mystery, danger and adventure. I loved the parallel worlds idea and the star-spinner was a unique device to time-slip between them. This is a story about the collision of science and history, but ultimately it's about friendship. Seasoned ...more
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story, it was unique and had some lovely ideas in it. I especially enjoyed that the adults were knowledgeable and didn't treat the kids like they were stupid - generally. Despite having a fear of spiders myself I thought it was really cool that the main character had a pet one as it's an unusual side kick creature. The twists and turns in this were fun and I liked the perspectives we got.

Overall a solid enjoyable middle grade book.

I was sent this by Netgalley in exchange f
This was a great read filled with strong characters, adventure, science, and bravery. Tess was honestly the best kind of character; I loved her curiosity, loyalty to her family, and strength as she learned about her past and stood up against Mr. Cleat and Mrs. Thistleton. The world was imaginative and filled with so many possibilities, and I hope there's a second book in the works so I can explore more of this world! ...more
Mary Judy
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Star-Spun Web had me in its' grip from page one. Lyrical writing, a well-crafted plot and exceptional story-telling make this book ring with adventure and believability. The concept of multi-layered reality is utterly fascinating and brings a compelling, inquisitive quality to the tale that harkens back to some of the sci-fi classics. Tess is a wonderful character; spunky, well-rounded and not easily defeated. She stands out as a hero the reader can really get behind. The 'bad-guys' in the s ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really imaginative novel for middle graders, filled with unusual and interesting objects, characters and theories. My son and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this together. Our only wish was that the last chapter or epilogue was a little longer. This would have tied up the ending, yet intrigued us to hunt down book 2 of the series right after. Still, a very enjoyable read!
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed the concept of the Star-Spun web. And it has really lovely friendships in it, which is always lovely. And I love that she has a pet spider.

I also adore Miss Ackerbee for being so matter of fact about it all! That made me laugh. It was so refreshing to have an adult figure it out and tell the main character rather than not believing them.

I feel there were a few unanswered questions, about t
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such an amazing story, I absolutely loved it!
Laura Danks
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My 10yo read this in two sittings and the overall feedback was: BRILLIANT!
She loved the story, the strong friendship with Viola the Tarantula and Thomas. Also, Miss Ackerbee is a fantastic and supportive character to help Tess through the years. My daughter loved the writing and I'm sure this is not the only book she will read by the very talented Sinéad O’Hart.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable fantasy with a fiesty heroine, host of other well written characters and good storyline. Left open for follow up which I will be looking for.
Mary Rees
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of Tess de Sousa, a wonderfully realistic heroine whose courage is mixed with moments of uncertainty, guilt and fear. She is an orphan with an interest in science, who has the ability to travel to a parallel world, in the grips of WWII, following her discovery of how to use a Star-spinner. Mr Cleat and Mrs Thistleton are the perfect dark villains. The story builds wonderfully to a tense climax, which literally had me holding my breath.
For me, this story is a real testament to t
Nia Talbot
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another fantastic novel by Sinéad O’Hart. A novel full of friendship, belonging, science and history.
Helen Peckett
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book! Reminded me of the Northern Lights trilogy.
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, books-i-own
The story of Tess and her figuring out who she is after being left at Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings, The Star-Spun Web is the excellent second book from Sinead O’Hart who follows up from the brilliant ‘Eye Of The North’.

The characters are brilliantly written in this book, though we launch into the plot quite quickly, Tess as a character develops well and the people around her are definitely just as strong, with characters such as those in the new home she lives in really emerging well
Eve McDonnell
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a complete HOOT from start to finish! A joy to read. POW, went the plot! POW! POW! A truly fantastic story by a truly magnificent writer.
Georgie Lucraft-Townley
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read and devoured ‘The Eye of the North’ when it was a featured monthly read on the Twitter page-Primary School Book Club; although this is a very different book, it’s touched by the same magic.
Sinaed O’Hart writes strong female protagonists so very well, but not in such a way as to alienate young male readers. She weaves a tale of adventure that twists and turns through alternate realities whilst coming to a conclusion that leaves you wanting more.
In short, I loved this book!
Kayleigh Cyphus
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sinéad O'Hart stormed into the Middle Grade scene last year with her fantastic debut The Eye of the North, so there were high expectations riding on her second book, The Star-Spun Web. Aside from the fact that Sara Mulvanny and Sophie Bransby have done a stellar job on the cover again (it's BEAUTIFUL!), this book was just as engaging and enjoyable to read as book one!

The Star-Spun Web is a mysterious story full of magic, science and wonder...and, despite my intense dislike of spiders, I actually
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a2, 2018, stripes, feb, a4n
Sinéad hits it out of the park with her second novel, a tale of world slipping, spiders – *a* spider, at least – and children who might be each other. Trust me, it all makes sense when you read it. And you definitely should read this one. Children will love it, and it introduces its central conceits very gently. They'll be learning as they read!

I'm very much looking forward to having this one in my hands, so that I can shove it into other peoples' hands.

Receiving an ARC did not affect my review
Pop Bop
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
A Character Driven Sci-Fi Actioner

This book works very well on a number of levels, but it does take a while to get up to speed, and it requires some patience on the part of the reader. In the opening pages we see infant Tess being deposited, through a tear in the fabric of reality, at an orphanage. We don't know if she's a princess, or a chosen one, or a crazed scientist's safely hidden child, but it's clear that's where the book will be headed.

But then we pop ahead and join Tess as a young girl
Anita McDivitt Barrios
This is a portal fantasy for middle grade readers, featuring two worlds, one in an alternate historical (1940s World War II) universe, with the possibility of many, many more.

The idea is that Tess' father uses a special device, a Star-Spinner, to deposit her as a baby on the steps of the Ackerbee Home for Lost and Foundlings, seconds before he's found by someone chasing him.

Now, the Home is, for a delightful change, not a horrible orphanage full of bullies and miscreants, but instead features a
Linda Patchett
I enjoyed this book about orphan, Tess, who soon realizes she is not from this world. She's plucky, loves science exploration, and her closest friend is Violet, a black tarantula that she raised from a baby. There are the classic Victorian elements. The orphanage seems to know nothing of what happened to her family- just that she was left in the cold on the front step by a man. Tess feels loved and safe in this well run home for girls and has many friends. She has time to work on her science exp ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tess is not an ordinary girl. With a tarantula, Violet, as a pet, and a sharp mind that leads her to experimenting, Tess has lived all her life in an orphanage, with no clue about her parents. When a mysterious man appears and claims to be a distant relative, it's her chance to learn more about who she is. As time passes, Tess realizes that she might not actually be from this dimension - a suspici
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
The first few chapters of this book honestly bored me a little. The pace felt a bit too slow and I felt like there were too many not-so-important details going on at first. However, things got a lot more interesting once you reached the conflict. And to prove this: I finished 200+ pages today because I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.

Our main character, Tess, was very brave and realistic. She was the kind of heroine that still had to face her moment of vulnerability now and then and
J.L. Slipak
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

This book reminds me a bit of Lemony Snickets', A Series of Unfortunate Events, when I read the premise. Then, as I started reading the book, I realized I was nowhere near that series, but entering into a new, originally themed series full of strong characters, great writing and a fantastic setting.

There's especially a wonderful MC who is brave, family-oriented, smart, loves science and isn't afraid of the unknown. She loves a bi
Amy (Golden Books Girl)
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read a proof of Sinead`s wonderful debut The Eye of the North, and as such I have had a very long time to get excited about her second book. If anything, it was even better than my astronomical expectations of it. It is the story of orphan Tess de Sousa and what happens when a sinister man claims to be her guardian and removes her from the orphanage, where she had one of the most wonderful found families I think I`ve ever read. Things get even stranger from there, and soon ...more
Christina Reid
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
After loving Sinead O'Hart's debut book, The Eye of the North, I was really excited to read this. Needless to say, I was not disappointed!
The story follows Tess De Sousa, who has grown up in a home for orphaned children thinking she is a completely normal person. Yet, whenever a mysterious man appears at the orphanage with a 'claim' to her, her guardian reveals the intriguing circumstances of Tess's arrival at the home and her belief that Tess is, in fact, not even from this world but a parallel
This one is a 3.5 for me. This fast-paced science fiction thriller was lots of fun to read. Tess de Sousa has never known a family other than the adults and children at Ackerbee's Home for Lost and Foundlings, but she seems fairly content there with her best friend, Wilf, and her spider, Violet. But when Norton Cleat claims to be her closest relative, everything changes. Tess is moved to a mansion but is closely watched by Cleat and the housekeeper, Mrs. Thistleton. Tess has in her possession a ...more
Kate Waggoner
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-read
Tess is a rather unique young lady. She is a foundling with a passion for science and a tarantula for a pet. She also has a mysterious past which collides with her present when a man, named Mr. Cleat, appears at Miss Ackerbee's door claiming to be a long lost relative. Mr. Cleat knows more than he lets on about Tess and the mysterious device, the star spinner, that was left with her the night she was abandoned on Miss Ackerbee's doorstep. Tess soon discovers that the star spinner is a gateway be ...more
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Sinéad O'Hart was born on a long-ago Monday in one of the many corners of Ireland. She grew up - not very far up, to be honest - with one brother and two parents, in a small house full of books. She always wanted to be an author, but somehow managed to wander through a variety of careers (including butcher, bookseller, and university lecturer, among others) before finally getting around to what sh ...more

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