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When Stars Are Bright

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  31 reviews
WHEN STARS ARE BRIGHT is a historical Thumbelina retelling with a touch of magic.

For Lina Holt, a Dutch seventeen-year-old with a flair for singing, 1930 is going to be her year. Her long-time boyfriend is about to propose and her mother will finally realize their relationship isn’t a passing phase. But when a stranger snatches her from her backyard, everything changes.

Paperback, 346 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Crescent Sea Publishing
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  58 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Candace Robinson
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read all of Duell’s books and this one has to be my favorite! When I read retellings, I like for them to have an original spin on it! And this had that! Also, it’s based on Thumbelina which I haven’t read any other retellings on!

What I liked best about this story was that it’s set in the 1930s! It’s very character driven with a touch of wonderful and hypnotic magic! Lina was easy to relate to and you could see her really grow as a character because of the predicament she was in!

I also seri
Sheila Goicea
I received a copy of this book via the author, Amber Duell, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.


All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.


Content Warning: Abduction, Physical & Emotional Abuse, Bystander Effect, PTSD, Profanity

The Statue of Liberty stands proudly in the distance. I shudder at the sight. She may be a sign of freedom to millions of people, but not me. I’m a prisoner here, t
Feb 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2020, ebook
I didn't really know the Thumbelina fairy tale, actually I only knew the name. So it wasn't familiar for me.
I liked how the author entwined the magical part into a 20th century setting and wanted to know more about it. There were so many interesting aspects, but most of it was left for imagination. It lacked depth and meaning. Probably the strongest part was the connection between Lina and Nik and the loyalty of Christian. The end was quiet quick, abrupt and sad. For me this wasn't satisfying at
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have heard many good things about Amber R. Duell, which has left me curious about the author’s work. As curious as I am about the author’s Dark Dreamer trilogy, I decided it was best to introduce myself to her work through a standalone.

When Stars Are Bright grabbed my attention because I’m a lover of a good retelling, especially when it’s a retelling of a story that is often overlooked. Thumbelina is a story that is rarely retold, one that offers so many possibilities, and Amber R. Duell has l
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you Amber for giving me the opportunity to review this amazing book! I enjoyed this book and I loved Lina, Christian and Nik!!

Omg!! I read this in one day!! Can you believe it? Can't put it down and I wanted to know how it end. Goshhh I kinda hate love the ending. I want it to end like this but at the same time I want another ending. I feel happy but sad at the same time.

Can I cry ? Kno. I feel bad for Nik. I want the best for him too. Goshh this is hard.

Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
C. Lewis
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
OMG!!! I loved this book! And I have already told the author she had me pacing the room with the tension and danger in this story. Seriously! I was screaming at the page. This is not your retailing. NOT AT ALL! I'm still upset about (Spoiler) but since her book dropped today, I decided to leave a review. I really can't recommend this book enough. But, I will warn you, you are about to go on one helluva emotional, tense, dangerous journey!! Just the kind of journey a good book should send you on!
Mar 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Where to begin? I feel like I need to categorize this review. I’ll start with the characters, because I actually thought that they were pretty well developed, as was the setting. I’m glad I read the synopsis of Thumbelina before reading the book, as it was neat to see the comparisons.

The plot engaged me for the first 70% or so, after which point I skimmed, because I was still invested enough to read the ending, which let me down, I must say. However, the whole sort of love triangle and Lina’s b
May 21, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

There was something about this story that has stayed in my mind ever since I first read the synopsis before its release and I'm so glad I finally picked it up. When Stars Burn Bright reads like a fairytale. The writing is very easy to read and the plot is relatively fast-paced, enough so that it doesn't feel like an almost 350 page book. In this world, there are Symrics, people with diluted fae blood that give them magical powers and our main character Lina has the gift of a beautiful a
Emmie Rose
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
As soon as I heard that this was Thumbelina re-telling I knew I was going to love it. As A little girl I would constantly watch the film and have honestly been begging and praying for someone to do a re-telling. Amber R. Duell clearly heard my pleas and has provided us with this absolute beauty.

I was completely captivated by this re-telling and the period it was set in. These characters are well written and Lina was by far my favourite. She was such a strong protagonist. She was put in such a to
Sissy Lu {Book Savvy Reviews}
I will shout it from the rooftops that I'm a fan of Duell! And it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that I'll read whatever she puts out. That being said–this was such a unique story, in that it's a historical story and it's a retelling of Thumbelina! Stop right there, Sissy, right?! But it was such a cool take on the story I grew up with, as well as the movie. So here's what else I thought about it.

When Stars Are Bright hooked me from the beginning, and when I wasn't reading it, I was drea
Elle Beaumont
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must read if you love historical retellings with a unique spin!
Sarah Ruth
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The beginning was a little slow, but once it got going this was a page turner! I loved the story, the relationships and the ending. I wish it had ended another way, but honestly I truly love when an author does something unexpected. It was unexpected for sure. I highly recommend this for a quickish, feel good & wholesome read ...more
Ashley Holdren  | *Whimsies of a Nerd Girl ~ Fantasy Book Blogger

...I really should make sure my library picks up this book. *makes mental note*
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks, gift, lgbtq
When Stars Are Bright is a reimagining of Thumbelina. Lina is 17 years old and is a farm worker, picking tulips in Leids, Holland, in 1930. She lives alone with her mother and has been sneaking out to see her boyfriend, Christian, for over a year. He is the heir to the Van Buren petroleum fortune, and both Lina's mother and Christian's family disapprove of the match. When Christian tries to introduce Lina to his family for the first time, it's a total disaster — and Lina breaks up with him. Befo ...more
Kim Lo
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of fairy tale retelling stories.  The ones that I have read are usually rather unique and have their own twist. However, Thumbelina is not one that I'm familiar with so in this case, I can really only base it on the historical setting and its young adult story elements.

While the story itself is rather predictable in its foundation, there are quite a few decent elements used here. For one, the fantastical elements used such as injecting the magical bits in its characters and the dif
Briana Cohen
Apr 29, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 rounded down. I loved parts of this, but then others fell short. Let’s start with the loves: the magical world, the Thumbalina retelling (which is a rare find), the romance, and the overall story were fantastic. The horrific way Lina was kidnapped made me feel like I was there, I was hooked on Lina and Christian from the first page, and I was desperate to dive into the fairy world. Unfortunately, the magical promise of the book fell flat. Other than saying that people had abilities...there w ...more
Jessica Belmont
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Okay, I normally don’t comment on the cover in a review but this cover is gorgeous and is definitely the main reason I was interested in reading this book. Finding out that it is a Thumbalina retelling made it all the more amazing!

You know what this book has that other retellings don’t often? A realism that helps keep it believable. I absolutely loved the historical setting – 1930s in NY. I think the research into the time period made the realism shine, which made for a more wholesome story.

Laura Doherty
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
The retelling of fairy tales seems to be a bandwagon that a lot of authors have jumped onto in the last few years. And who can blame then when Disney is constantly retelling us the same stories. Some of these retellings have been little more than a rehash of the same story, but others, others have been magical as they have interwoven a genuine love of the story with a heavy dose of originality.

When Stars Are Bright definitely falls into this second camp. As a kid Thumbelina was one of those cha
Brittney's Review
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of retellings and this one doesn't disappoint. A lot of retellings have the same "twist" or storyline, but this one is not only unique, it also is a retelling based on Thumbelina which hasn't been covered by a lot of other authors. If you enjoy retellings, do yourself a favor and read this one because it is well worth it.
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
**4.5 stars** I love myself a good retelling! I enjoyed how it took place in the 30’s as well, so it was historical with magic. It didn’t blow me away and I wasn’t obsessed with the story, but I still really enjoyed it and it was a fairly quick read!
Tricia Varosky
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a fan of retellings, I was excited to jump into When Stars Are Bright as soon as I found out that it was a Thumbelina retelling. I must admit, that’s one fairy tale I don’t see a lot of retellings about – this being the first Thumbelina retelling I’ve read. If each one is as amazing as this one by Duell, I’ll have to make it a point to search them out.

The characters themselves were what pulled me into the story right away. I felt for Lina, being in love with Christian but knowing their famili
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I really loved reading this wonderful book! I loved the characters and the plot! I loved this retelling of Thumbelina! I had a hard time putting this wonderful book down!
Jo - Cup of Toast
Feb 12, 2020 rated it liked it
This is an interesting retelling of the classic fairytale, Thumbelina. Whilst aimed at a Young Adult audience, this complex narrative deals with abduction and abuse so might not suit everyone’s reading preferences.

Set in the 1930s between Holland and the USA, the story begins with Lina and her mother who work together in the tulip fields. Lina has made a romantic choice in becoming attached to Christian, that neither her mother or his parents are agreeable to. After a disastrous date at a family
Liliyana Shadowlyn
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-reads
When Stars Are Bright is a captivating retelling. Lina wants nothing more than to happy with her boyfriend, and live out a quiet life. But a stranger has different plans for her. Just like that she's thrust into a world where who to trust could be the difference between staying alive and returning home or staying trapped forever in the gilded cage of stardom. A must-read for anyone who loves fairy tale retellings.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was received from the Author/Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have never read anything by this author before and now I need to read more.

I am not very familiar with the original story of Thumbelina but I do enjoy a good retelling. And I have never heard of a Thumbelina retelling to date. Which was great since everyone seems to be down the same 2 or 3 stories over and over again.

The first 130 pages seemed to take me longer to get throu
Emma Katherine
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
My full review contains much more content! Read my full review here :

Opinions: There's simply nothing to say about When Stars Are Bright except that it is an engaging, thematic, entertaining read! I'm nothing short of impressed with Duell's Thumbelina retelling. Readers follow Lina through her first kiss, first public performance, and even her first kidnapping while debating who to trust and who to doubt. Readers will adore the realistic elements woven in
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was such an amazing story!! The ending will having you grabbing for the tissues and the story will have you reading until you are finished. I am so happy that I was given the chance to read this amazing retelling of Thumbelina and I really hope we get another story set in this same world. The cast of characters and the use of magic was wonderful. My only issue with this one was the pacing. It was a little slower in places than I would have liked but other than that it was a stellar story th ...more
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's "Casablanca"(the pianist... )all over again ,I'm crying writing this review,oh my god,the last pages tore my heart. I do not recommend for anyone who wants to avoid suffering, a beautiful story.I want read other books of this author
Erin Gossman
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It has been years and years since I’ve watched Thumbelina, it used to be one of my all time favorites. Now I’m anxiously awaiting a reasonable hour so I can watch it, since I’ve read myself to an unreasonable one.
I loved this book. I loved the characters. Especially Nic. And the last character to be introduced, my god, great way to go.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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Amber R. Duell is a native of Central New York but currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and two sons. She survives on caffeine and baked goods. When not reading or writing, she enjoys snowboarding, embroidering, staying up way too late to research genealogy, and discovering real-life adventures.

News & Interviews

  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
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