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The Forest of Stars

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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.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published August 4, 2020

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About the author

Heather Kassner

3 books192 followers
Heather Kassner loves thunderstorms, hummingbirds, and books. She lives with her husband in Arizona, waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the rain, photographing hummingbirds, and reading and writing strange little stories.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 124 reviews
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
696 reviews1,074 followers
January 11, 2022
“You won’t mean to, but one day the wind might carry you away. The sky is vast…something you may become lost in. I could not bear to lose you to the forest of stars.”

When Louisa’s mother passes away, she is forced to flee after the villagers notice her strange abilities and chase her out of town.

Louisa floats above everything, above the ground, above a chair she would sit on. Her power comes from her father, a man she hasn’t seen since he floated away when she was a little girl.

She finds herself drawn to the Carnival Beneath the Stars, where she is quickly made to feel welcome and makes new friends.

But all is not well in the carnival. Accidents are happening and the magical talents of the different members are fading away.

Can Louisa and her friends figure out the cause of this darkness and stop it before it is too late?

I loved this magical, whimsical tale. Full of colourful characters and a delightfully spooky story. It may be middle grade but if gave me everything I was looking for and I definitely think adults will enjoy it.

“Nothing was better than being known by someone, than being understood and trusted and loved for being just who you were.”
Profile Image for Sarah.
271 reviews118 followers
May 15, 2023
Do you ever finish a book, then check its page here, and think HOW does it not have more five star reviews?! Maybe I enjoyed this so much because I grew up loving stories like The Forest Of Stars 🍃✨🖤
This is a beautifully written, gothic, mid-grade novel. It gives slight Coraline vibes.

Twelve year old Louise has been faced with one of the worst heartbreaks a girl of that age that contend with, the death of her beloved Mother. After she loses her, she is determined to find her father, who was taken away on the wings of his untamed magic. The very same magic that Louisa can use - the power of levitation.
She finds an invite to The Carnival Beneath The Stars and believes this is a sign. Will she be reunited with her long-lost Father?

The Carnival Beneath The Stars setting is incredibly described by the author here. She has fleshed out an amazing scene with a great cast of characters that you will become invested in; Mercy, Jess and Ox especially, alongside Louisa. Each have their own uniqueness, their magical qualities and abilities.
The magical and creepy sides to this story are balanced very well.

Well done to Heather Kassner for writing such a great dark fairytale-type book here. I have to add it to my favourites and award it 5 stars! 💖

”Nothing was better than being known by someone, than being understood and trusted and loved for being just who you were.”
August 3, 2020
So lovely and magical. One of the best middle-grade novels I have read in a while. ♡

There’s a dark, fairytale-like quality to this novel that I remember experiencing in my own childhood readings when books were less contemporary and more folksy. The Forest of Stars is alluring and wondrously irresistible with its moody aura, dark elements, and mysterious magic.

Louisa, the main character, is first introduced to the reader while mending fabrics by her mother’s bedside. Her mother is terribly ill and about to leave this world. Louisa is a diligent, hardworking girl through all hours of the day and when her mother passes on, she is left with a few coins and her mother’s memories of her father, who Louisa never met.

Louisa wants to find out if she can find her father and sets out on a journey. Drifted out through the window and up and away, is all that she was told her father went, into the dark skies on a stormy gust.

Her feet never quite touching the ground, she is aware that she is different somehow and tries to hide behind objects and people. During a market, she finds a golden ticket to the Carnival Beneath the Stars where she is told her misfortunes and makes friends with some of the carnival crew. When she is invited to partake, things don’t go as planned and darkness surrounds the performance.

Not all her new friends stay unscathed and it quickly becomes clear that there are trying forces at work and the crew is tethered within its limitations. But who is orchestrating this dark magic?

Will Louisa make it through and find her father after all?


This is such a whimsical and imaginative book with goth undertones. I liked the whole broody darkness surrounding the carnival and all over mood. I was pretty much captivated immediately by Kassner’s writing, it is simply brilliant. Seriously, one of the best middle-grade books I have read in a long time along with The Bone Garden, Kassner’s previous novel.

I have read several children’s novels over the years in part because of volunteer work and my love for reading to children and this is truly one of those special books, I think, that stands out at the moment. Not because there haven’t been books similar to this, but I do register a trend in novels as different genres gain momentum till the next wave of the same come along. The Forest of Stars has a rooted fairytale-like quality to it that has reemerged among books of adventure, mythology, or children’s mysteries, and is wonderfully peculiar for the senses. Perfect to instill a curiosity for the fantastical and open the world back to imagination.

The artwork in this novel is beautiful, though black and white. I can only imagine what it would look like in color! If you have a chance, check out the artist Kaja Kajfež, because her art is amazing.

As you can tell, I can definitely recommend this one. I will be sure to read all and any of Kassner’s books as they publish.


More of my reviews here:
Through Novel Time & Distance
Profile Image for ʙᴇʟᴀ.: ☾**:.☆*.:。..
200 reviews99 followers
October 4, 2020
After the death of her mother, Louisa who has a magical ability to float just like her father, sets on a magical journey trying to find her lost father.
She ends up floating to the sky where she lands on a Circus in the Stars. There she makes new friends, but then something dark begins to unravel.
With danger lurking at the corner, will Louisa be able to find out the culprit with the help of her friends? and will she be able to find her long lost father?
This book was wonderful and lovely. I truly wish I had read this in my childhood. The creativity in the worldbuilding is whimsical and beautiful.
Kassner’s writing is flawless and the art was very cute. A truly magical mystery. You should read it if you are a fan of circus or if you enjoy magical middle-grade.
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!)
July 19, 2020
I won this beautiful arc in a goodreads giveaway, & I’m so thankful & happy! I finished this last night, & I loved it so much! This author weaves another unique, spooky, mysterious, magical story! I loved the carnival so much, & could see all the different tents for all the different performers clearly in my mind. I also loved all the carnival characters & all of their differences in magic & in their personalities! I loved Louisa so much. I just wanted to give her a big hug, & tell her to believe in herself & her magic. That being different is amazing! Who wants to be like everyone else? Boring! Lol The side character that had my heart in this book is Quiet Si...I adored him! The parts throughout the books where grief is touched on were done very well, & were relatable. Definitely pulled at my heart strings. The love bugs were such a clever idea! Loved that. I loved the friendships also! They became their own little family. They believed in one another, helped one another, & loved one another. They ACCEPTED one another-so important. I really loved that. The mystery in the book was awesome! I had no idea what what was what, or who was doing what, etc. lol Beautifully written, captivating, & just lovely all the way around. Don’t want to say much more, but I highly recommend this book! Love this cover too, & even the ARC has beautiful illustrations throughout! I can’t wait to purchase a finished copy to put beside the arc!😍😍 This comes out soon! August 4th!💜💜

Synopsis: 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.
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,063 reviews130 followers
November 12, 2021
"The midnight sky darkened, black as the love bugs eating away at her mother’s heart. If Louisa listened closely, she could hear them chewing. Tiny bites that crackled and clicked, as if their teeth were very sharp."

Carnival books are my thing. As soon as I see covers with festival tents or carnival performers, I am sold. I really don't need to know anything else about the book, I'm already there with my popcorn and ride tickets.

After seeing the cover for this one, I knew that I needed this one in my life. Then I read the synopsis and I was even more sold than I was before. It sounded magical and a little mysterious. I was in love before I even started this one. But that was very short-lived.

Unpopular Opinion

It started off fantastic. Louisa's Mom passes away and now Louisa is left to fend for herself. Her Dad up and floated away when she was younger and she never learned much about him except the tiny bit her Mother shared. As she is searching for food, she comes across a ticket to the carnival, and her life changes after that. See, it all sounds really amazing. Then she meets up with some performers from the circus and that is when you lose me. It got boring for me after that and there was nothing there to keep me entertained. I did finish the book though. I think that counts for something.

The story just ended up being basic. Nothing really unique or interesting happened and I'm hurt that they compared this to Coraline. This is really nothing like that, so don't come barking up this tree if you came here for some Gaiman-esque wonder.

What I did like was the first fabulous chapter and the way the author tugged at your heartstrings right from the start. I love that. The scene with Louisa and her mother was something special. Louisa's mother was my favorite character and I was sad that she didn't have a bigger role. Plus I love the cover of this book. It's so very mystical.

The Forest of Stars had so much potential but fell flat for me. I didn't really enjoy this as much as I thought I would. The story was mediocre and the characters were kind of annoying. This left me with a feeling of meh and I'm not okay with that.
Profile Image for Joan He.
Author 6 books7,135 followers
June 18, 2020
enchanting and heartwarming, as you would expect from Heather <3
Profile Image for 8stitches 9lives.
2,793 reviews1,627 followers
May 11, 2021
The Forest of Stars is a dark, enchanting tale of a young girl whose magic means she never quite touches the ground, and a carnival of wonders haunted by a malicious darkness. 12-year-old Louisa LaRoche has suffered more than anyone her tender age should; since her father “lost his grasp on the world” just before she was born and went on to float out of a window one day to never return. As if that wasn't sad enough her mother is now dying due to the love bugs eating through every inch of her grieving heart; it's just a matter of time as Louisa sits by the bed stitching and mending fabric. Now hungry, homeless and forced to sleep alone every night, she no longer has the reassuring protection of her heartbroken mother. As all she has left in the world, Louisa is hellbent on trying to find her father but like him, she is “made of hollow bones and too much air,” causing her to float, too. So despite her concerns about how she is different to most folks and her fears about a gust of wind simply carrying her helplessly away, she sets off on a journey hiding the streak of magic contained within her from the onlooking world. By chance, she discovers a golden ticket to the Carnival Beneath the Stars and the mysterious, magical beings who work there. Surrounded by new friends with magical powers she learns to embrace her individuality thanks to her wonderful companions who offer her a place to stay in return for being the troupe's principal seamstress. Being different here is celebrated, as it should be, instead of feared and she is asked if she would like to join them and develop her own act. She hopes that this fame may find its way to her father but sinister things are afoot.

Those here perform acts in which they command shadows, tightrope walk, perform feats of apparent telekinesis and tell you your fortune (or, more accurately, misfortune). Of course, her special skill is levitation, something she does regularly anyway. They all run along beautifully until one day catastrophe strikes; a member of the carnival troupe is accused of stealing the performers’ magic and Louisa wants to find out who. She feels she must protect those who protected her and took her under their wing at her time of need and soon the secrets of both the members and the carnival begin to unravel one by one. Who is orchestrating this dark, devious magic and for what purpose? This is a captivating, enthralling and beautifully woven fantasy that I feel can be enjoyed by all ages; the prose is lush and poetic but easy to devour and I found the story had very much a welcome fairytale feel to it. It's full of both dark and light magic and is wonderfully enchanting, but I appreciated how the core elements of the tale - including themes of love, the power of friendship, hope, the celebration of individuality and self-discovery were offset by darker, more melancholic themes such as loss, grief, evil and hopelessness in order to keep an engaging balance. The richly imagined world and the Carnival being peopled by quirky, idiosyncratic characters added further allure to the narrative. Inventive and whimsical, The Forest of Stars is one of the best middle-grade books I've had the pleasure to read. Finally, the black and white line drawings by Kaja Kajfež complement key events perfectly and the cherry on the cake is the satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Lauren.
828 reviews931 followers
July 9, 2021
4.5 stars

The Forest of Stars really surprised me - I never thought a middle grade book would be so utterly compelling (and downright terrifying in places) nor leave me wanting more. I was initially drawn to this book by the cover which gave me strong The Night Circus vibes and having read so many glowing reviews about it on GR, decided to pick it up.

The book follows Louisa, a girl whose feet don't quite touch the ground, and she is left alone in the world after the horrible demise of her mother and the disappearance of her father who was seemingly carried away to The Forest of Stars, never to be seen again. On her quest to find her father who she has no memory of, Louisa discovers a ticket admitting her to The Carnival Beneath the Stars located near The Spark Woods.

What follows is a magical, enchanting and terrifying adventure where Louisa makes some very unique friends whilst learning that not everyone at the carnival is what they seem...

The atmosphere is light and whimsical and full of the magical splendor you feel at a circus/carnival but then shifts to become creepy, gothic and unsettling as magic and identities unravel.

This was an absolute delight to read - it was lyrical, evocative yet haunting but imbued with a sense of wonder and awe throughout. It also gave me The Night Circus, Stardust and The Ocean at the End of the Lane vibes and I love all those books! <3

Definitely recommend to lovers of magical realism and circus/carnival settings - believe me, you're in for a treat!
Profile Image for Sarah Sammis.
7,244 reviews215 followers
September 13, 2020
The Forest of Stars by Heather Kassner is a middle grade fantasy about a girl trying to find her father after her mother's death. It reads like a blend of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (2011) and Spell & Spindle by Michelle Schusterman (2018), set in a world that resembles the changeability of the film, Mirror Mask.

Louisa LaRoche needs somewhere safe to live after her mother dies, her broken heart eaten away by love-bugs. Like her father, who she only knows by name, she can float in the air. The wind can carry her away if she's not careful.


336666 - family home offroad
Profile Image for Elliott.
109 reviews51 followers
April 23, 2020
What I love about books is when you are reading one and, as you are drawing ever nearer and nearer to the end of the story, you don't want to. You want to linger longer in the magical world that it creates and stay among the characters the author has imagined. The Forest of Stars by Heather Kassner was one of those books.

The Forest of Stars is a dark, dazzling tale that mesmerizes with magic and mystery. It's filled with all the elements I have loved in a book ever since I was a boy and, like I did when I was a child, there were nights when I stayed up later just to read one more chapter. And like the enchanted books of my childhood, this one lingered in my dreams even after I had closed the pages.

Heather Kassner weaves a tale that is equal parts creepy, emotional, wondrous, and balances character with plot in a way that leaves one breathless. The Forest of Stars is about twelve-year-old Louisa LaRoche, who, after the death of her mother, longs to find her father, who mysteriously was taken away on a powerful gust of wind on "the wings of his untamed magic," the very same magic Louisa has.

After finding a gleaming black and gold invitation, she finds herself involved in the Carnival Beneath the Stars. Now I have been entranced with magical carnivals and circuses for as long as I can remember. Books like Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes to Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus have left me breathless and amazed at the unique worlds they created and Heather Kassner has done the same with hers. She astonishes not only with the imagination by which she builds this world of the Carnival Beneath the stars but the way she populates it with characters the reader loves and becomes invested so deeply in. She balances the magic with the creepiness to such a degree that haunts you in all the ways a good piece of fantasy should. I was constantly surprised and delighted by each new unexpected turn in the story.

If you're looking for a richly rewarding and deeply spellbinding book to read, then I highly recommend The Forest of Stars.
Profile Image for Adrienne.
64 reviews20 followers
December 11, 2019
This book!


A carnival with black and gold striped tents
A girl who walks on air
Another who wields shadows
A misfortune teller who grows flowers in her hair

Secrets and friendship and scissors and guarded hearts. This book is SO magical and strange and whimsical.

Heather is a delicate and haunting writer and I cannot wait to read everything she writes because WHOA.

Profile Image for Jennifer.
480 reviews19 followers
May 29, 2021
I must admit that I rarely read middle grade books, but when I saw that The Forest of Stars is set in a Circus I got intrigued and decided to pick it up! And lo and behold, I'm in love of the dazzling prose and I was deeply fascinated by the sinister magic that's lurking beneath the glamour of the big top shows.

"But for all the carnival dazzled, it almost hummed with darkness. Long lines formed in front of the tents, people waiting until the appointed hour for the performance."

This is a story about grief and belonging. Following her mother's death, Louisa fled to the Carnival Beneath the Stars to find her missing father. And oh boy, I loved the way Kassner described the details of the carnivals: from the big top atmosphere to the eclectic cast of runaway magical talents. I felt like I was invited to watch a spectacular Circus show throughout the novel!

"Over the past lonely weeks, she'd grown so used to lying beneath the stars that when she saw the black, gold, and red stripes of the tent above her instead, she felt completely out of sorts and so very far from her mother."

In addition to the prose, what really kept me onto the the novel is the way Kassner elegantly conveyed how Louisa processed her grief and how she slowly warmed up with the other magical performers in the carnival. So I quite enjoyed this clever spin on my favourite book trope aka The Found Family!

"The threads of darkness were out there somewhere. And tonight, they might come for her magic."

Likewise, I thought the plot in The Forest of Stars was cleverly done. Even with clever foreshadowings, I still got surprised by numerous plot twists as the darkness beneath the big top shows slowl unravelled. Even though there were these twists and turns, I thought the build ups make a lot of sense and are really coherent to the overall atmosphere of the book!

To sum up my reading experience of The Forest of Stars: reading this felt like being soaked under the starlight and I always wanted to find out what happens next. With its twists and turns and magic, this is a touching story about love and belonging. And I highly recommend this to anyone who who wants a quick read with clever plot twists and memorable prose!

N.B. This book contains following content warnings: loss of loved ones, grief, accidents, and sharp objects
August 6, 2020
* I won an arc in a giveaway on Instagram*

An enchanting and magical tale that is sure to delight readers of all ages! I immediately fell in love with Louisa and the rest of the cast of characters in this middle grade fantasy. Louisa sets out on a quest to find her father after her mother passes away. A long time ago, her father was taken from her when a gust of wind snatched him and his magic away. Louisa herself has this same sort of magic, as her feet don’t quite touch the ground. The quest begins when Louisa finds an invitation to a Carnival Beneath the Stars. She heads to the Carnival hoping to find her father, or any kind of lead as to where he could be. She winds up finding friends there, and people who accept her for the way she is. Along with her newfound friends, Louisa discovers that things aren’t all as they seem at the Carnival and with their help starts uncovering a dastardly plot. Along the way, she discovers that when you feel lost, sometimes you find where you belong in the most unexpected ways.

This was my first book I read by Kassner and I was delighted! A charming, fast paced adventure you won’t want to miss.
Profile Image for Li ☾.
505 reviews48 followers
January 3, 2022
I absolutely adored this book!!!
The forest of stars is middle grade fantasy that gave me little vibes of a young readers version of The night circus, with a mix of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
However, middle grade it may be, it can definitely be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
It was just so beautifully written, so imaginative and creative. With an amazing cast of characters, the loveliest and sweetest friendships, full of magic and mystery, hope and courage .... and much more. I just loved it and didn't want it to end.
Profile Image for Kelly deVos.
Author 6 books317 followers
May 28, 2020
With its traveling circus, unforgettable cast of characters and prose that tugs at the heartstrings, this is a gorgeous book that is sure to delight readers of all ages. Kids will love the magic, mystery and friendships while adult readers will appreciate the strong family relationships and themes of resilience. A perfect bridge between classic and contemporary middle grade fiction!
Profile Image for Cara (Wilde Book Garden).
1,039 reviews57 followers
July 16, 2021
Wonderfully atmospheric writing and setting, and I really liked the group of characters! I would have liked to see a little more from a few of them, but overall I feel like Heather Kassner does a great job of connecting the reader to characters and their dynamics in just a few pages.

Like, this is a short book, but I really liked the friendship group and the found family dynamic. (I think Ox may have been my favorite side character, he was just so kind and supportive.)

And I really liked the mystery elements too. There were some things I picked up on and others where the book kept me guessing, which is just what I like.

Kassner writes imaginative, compelling stories that perfectly balance whimsy and darkness, and sadness and hope, and I'm so excited to keep following her career.

CW: Grief

Profile Image for Sierra Dertinger.
98 reviews9 followers
July 4, 2021
Twelve-year-old sweet Louisa LaRoche endures the death of her mother in the first pages of this story. It is done so tenderly and I hurt for her. She is one her own as she looks into the sky in hopes to find her father. Louisa is made of hollow bones and though she believes she is not full of magic, she quite is. She floats about the ground, just like what he father could do. However, he is no longer around as he was swept away by powerful winds never to be seen again. Since her mother has passed, all she wants is to find her father. He must be near, and since he can float she deems it may be possible to find him sooner than later. As she treks into the forest, she comes across a black-and-gold ticket. This ticket will lead her to the Carnival Beneath the Stars. If her father is anywhere, it would be there. When she arrives to the beautiful carnival with black-and-gold tops sprinkled throughout, she learns that this place isn't what she thought it would be. There are numerous acts with magical performers and as she watches the Raven's tightrope act something eerie and catastrophic happens. Soon she comes to grips that something terrible is happening and she must protect herself and her new friends Ox, Mercy, and Jess.

There is so much more to this story that I would love to share, but I do not want to ruin it! However, this is a story with themes of hope, friendship, heart, belief in yourself, and a touch of magic. Kassner's writing is beyond words. It reminded me of Jess Redman's writing from Quintessence. I am eager to read her first book The Bone Garden next, and hopefully read her forthcoming novel The Plentiful Darkness soon.
7,167 reviews26 followers
June 17, 2020
I received an electronic ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group through NetGalley.
Darker magical fantasy spun in a carnival setting. Think The Night Circus for a younger audience.
Louisa flees her town after her mother dies. She's homeless and penniless and her secret is discovered when she goes into town. Louisa walks on the air and can float as high as she chooses. A ticket to the carnival mysteriously appears and she flees to it when they chase her out of town. Her hope is to find her father who blew away with the wind.
At the carnival she finds friends, acceptance and a home. However, there is a darker magic stealing from others. Accidents happen and false accusations are made. The four friends - Louisa, Ox, Jess, Mercy - work together to figure out who is stealing the magic. As you'd expect, a final battle between good and evil completes the novel with a sweet reunion between daughter and father to wrap up the book.
A shorter book with plenty of action and mystery to pull middle grade readers in to the magic of this book. Kassner creates a fully developed setting and continues to reveal more about her characters throughout the story. The messages to believe in yourself and trust your friends come through clearly as does the triumph of cooperation over greed.
Profile Image for Laura  H.
559 reviews52 followers
March 27, 2022
This book had me captured from start to finish, the concept is stunning and an incredible setting. Plenty of magic and enchanting scenes, as meet variety of people each with their own talents and stories to tell.

I adored every moment as Louisa grows into who she is and her abilities, while searching for her dad and finding a group of friends along the way. The writing is beautiful and had me gripped to the page, as learn about the world and details revealed over time.

There's a lot of twists and turns on route to the happy ending, rather fascinating plot and I loved how the various types of magic are used throughout. Whether its the shadows, floating, strength, tattoos and misfortunes they all work together to create a beautiful show.

I enjoyed the friendship between Mercy, Ox, Jess and Louisa as they support each other throughout. Even when their afraid they still stick together and make a lovely team, all of their abilities complimenting each other to save the day.

Got to mention the talk of stars and lovebugs too, as very interesting theme throughout and so fitting to the mc. Her growth in the story and moving forward.

Overall an enchanting tale full of so much to enjoy from the magic, circus and friendships along with a mystery. Leading to a happy ending! 💕
Profile Image for Jess Redman.
Author 7 books270 followers
August 12, 2020
Utterly enchanting in every way, THE FOREST OF STARS is the story of a girl who must learn to fly and the circus that holds her past and her future. I loved this wonderful tale about finding the magic inside yourself—and then being brave enough to wield it.
Profile Image for Kim Tomsic.
Author 7 books58 followers
April 1, 2020
If Coraline has an older sister, her name is THE FOREST OF STARS! I can't help but wonder if author Heather Kassner has been drinking a potion mixed by Neil Gaiman!
Profile Image for Monica Haak.
Author 9 books85 followers
September 13, 2020
Heel, heel cute. Magisch, circus vibes, Caraval vibes, fantasierijk, origineel, prachtige schrijfstijl, mysterie. Loved it!
Profile Image for Energy (Rae's Reading).
1,492 reviews36 followers
July 16, 2020
When she was a baby, Louisa lost her father. He simply floated away, never to return. Now she’s lost her mother and has nowhere to go. As her coins continue to dwindle, her fears of being swept away in the wind grow. It’s auspicious that she finds an invitation to the “Carnival Beneath the Stars”, even if at first, she doesn’t see it that way.

While Louisa is a child, she is well ahead of her years in some aspects. That she can take care of herself after her mother dies is impressive. I thought the magic that the other performers had was creative. It made them multi-dimensional to the reader. Although I figured out who the villain was when it came to the mystery, and perhaps that is because of my age, it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the book.

This was a fun and creative read from the very start. From the love bugs and the fact that Louisa floats, and each person at the carnival, you’re immersed in a magical world. Every few chapters you get an illustration to go with the storyline. I think it unfair that adult readers aren’t reading through the eyes of the middle grade this is marketed to. It carries heavy themes of love and loss, of friendship, and healing. With the magic and mystery, it holds great appeal to readers of all ages. A fun and imaginative read. Thank you, Macmillan Children's, for sending this along!
Profile Image for Kathie.
Author 2 books66 followers
June 1, 2021
I loved this story about a girl looking for her father but finding her home at the carnival.

When Louisa’s mother dies, she’s homeless and afraid of ending up in an orphanage. She wants to find her father, who disappeared several years ago and has the same special ability to levitate that she has, but all she has to go on is a picture of her parents with a striped tent in the background. When she finds a ticket to the Carnival Beneath the Stars, she discovers it has the same tent as in the photograph. While desperately searching the carnival for her father, she befriends some of the performers who convince her to stay with them. But there is dark magic hiding in the shadows, and rumours start to circulate about suspicious “accidents” that jeopardize the lives of the performers. Louisa quickly realizes she’s caught up in the circus’s web of danger but never gives up hope that her father might be able to find her.

What I loved most about this story is the close network of the performers and how readily they accept and welcome Louisa. From a lifetime of having to hide that she can levitate, she now steps into a world where she has found “her people.” I love her friendships with Ox, Jess, and Mercy and how they help her learn to use her magic and gain confidence. I also loved the magic of the circus and found myself wishing I could experience the colourful costumes, imaginative shows and soak in the atmosphere. There was an element of mystery, and I loved the twists that appeared throughout the story.

I love that this is a fantasy story that’s less than 300 pages, so it’s accessible to a wide range of readers. It would pair very well with THE CIRCUS OF STOLEN DREAMS by Lorelei Savaryn, and I’d recommend it for Gr. 4-7.
Profile Image for Sophia Dyer • bookishly.vintage.
423 reviews29 followers
March 14, 2021
This was a wonderful little middle grade novel about friendship, magic, and a carnival like no other. But beware, this book does deal with some hard topics too. I mean, within the first chapter the mother is killed by "love bugs," bugs that burrowed into her heart after heartbreak and ate it whole. That part was a little too in detail for me, especially since the love bugs followed Louisa around the rest of the book, and she could not even grieve her mother without fear of them eating her heart too. Yeah....not sure "do not grieve" is a good message to send kids....

Anyway, this is a story about finding a lost father but also a whodunnit too, since there is a mysterious magic going around stealing magic from people. Of course, Louisa and her new friends are up to solving this mystery, even if it means making some mistakes and accusing the wrong people on the way. I thought the reliance on friendship and working together was nice, and this book also showed how friends should believe each other over the words of others, especially if you know that friend better than somebody else.

In the end I was surprised by the "big bad," and there was some action but not a huge fight scene. Understandable, given the age range. This book does not end in death either, just the cutting of hair and being cast out of the carnival. Of course there were a few things throughout the book that I guessed from the beginning, but there was a potential love interest I thought would play out that didn't. Oh well, it was not needed for the story.

Overall, it was a cute story and I thoroughly enjoyed the illustrations throughout, but I had a hard time keeping my attention on the book and I think I expected it to be more whimsical than it was. Of course I might feel differently if I was even closer to the intended age group, but I have read middle grade novels before and been blown away. But that is okay! Not every book is meant for every person, and I enjoyed it but did not fall head over heels in love. :)
Profile Image for Alexis.
86 reviews33 followers
June 29, 2020
I absolutely loved this book! 5/5 Stars (pun intended).
They say it's a young adult novel but it doesn't feel like it. These magical friends remind of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Louisa is easy to relate to and she floats through life with the sole purpose of finding her father. Little did she realise she would end up finding herself.
#theforestofstars #heatherkassner
Profile Image for Natasha  Leighton .
404 reviews126 followers
December 27, 2021
This is a magically charming fantasy about a twelve year old girl, searching for her father after her mother’s death.

Before she was born, Louisa LaRoche’s father was blown away in a gust of wind by his untamed magic,the same magic that Louisa herself inherited. Alone, with nowhere to go Louisa finds a ticket to the Carnival Beneath the Stars filled with magical (and odd) people.

Knowing her father’s strange gift wouldn’t be out of place at the Circus, she decides to search for him there. But shorty after arriving several of the acts end disastrously (and suspiciously) and Louisa must decide if she’s willing to take on the injured performers role. Danger lurks around every corner and darkness closing in will Louisa and her friends’ find the culprit before anything far worse happens.

I did enjoy this a little, Louisa was charming and I really felt for her circumstances and loss- especially at such a young age. However, I thought that the book was Teen/YA but the writing feels more like Middle-grade or Juvenile fiction which isn’t a genre I like, or tend to enjoy.

If you enjoy this genre or have children who read middle grade and think they’d like the Circus, or dark magic theme then I’d wholeheartedly recommend. But, if you enjoyed The Night Circus you may not enjoy this, due to the writing style being geared towards a younger audience.

A massive thank you to Titan Books and NetGalley for the digital ARC
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