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Constellations of Scars

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Not all gifts are a blessing. Some are a curse.
When Amelia turned 12, she began growing pearls. Every month, a crop of beautiful pearls bursts from the skin on her back. Her mother, Denise, believes her daughter is blessed, and sells the pearls to put food on the table. Amelia sees her condition as a curse. As the pearls form, her body aches and her skin grows feverish. The harvest of pearls brings temporary relief from the pain, but leaves her back marred by scars. Denise hides Amelia away from the world, worried that Amelia’s gift will be discovered and she will be abducted for the wealth she can provide. Now a young woman, Amelia realizes she has become her mother’s captive, and plans her escape. When she runs away from home, she finds a new family in a troupe of performers at a museum of human oddities. She soon discovers the world is much more dangerous than her mother feared.

258 pages, Paperback

First published June 9, 2021

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About the author

Melissa Eskue Ousley

12 books205 followers
Melissa Eskue Ousley is an award-winning author living on the Oregon coast with her family, a neurotic dog, a charming cat, and a piranha. Her dark fantasy, Constellations of Scars, won a 2022 Eric Hoffer Book Award. Her suspense novel, Pitcher Plant, won a 2018 Independent Publisher Book Award. Her young adult novel, Sunset Empire, debuted in a bestselling boxed set. Her short stories have been included in Rain Magazine, The North Coast Squid, and various anthologies. When she’s not writing, she can be found volunteering for her local wildlife center, caring for injured owls and hawks.

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5 stars
30 (16%)
4 stars
49 (27%)
3 stars
59 (33%)
2 stars
25 (14%)
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14 (7%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 97 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah.
178 reviews100 followers
April 17, 2021
Amelia is a young girl with a strange and unique affliction. Once a month, pearls grow (and then shed) out from under her skin. It started when she was twelve years old, monthly, and has littered her body with constellations of scars.
However, her mother views this as a money making scheme and harvests these pearls from her daughter for profit. She keeps Amelia locked in an attic room, isolated from the world. According to her mother this is to “keep her safe.”
Naturally, Amelia feels trapped and the story begins with her plotting her escape.
She manages to stash a few pearls away from each shedding, as the number varies each time so she could do this without her Mother noticing.
Once enough of the pearls have been collected to sell on for enough money, and with a bag packed, Amelia sets off to the city of Portland alone and determined.
She is set on creating a new, more independent, life for herself.

A chance encounter with a young man called Peter when she arrives in Portland changes Amelia’s direction - to the coastal town, aptly named, Seaside. This is where Peter and his father run a museum where Amelia’s pearls could come in useful for their mermaid exhibit. But can she keep the secret of where these pearls are actually obtained from?

Constellations Of Scars initially grabbed me with its hauntingly beautiful cover, and it pleased me that the story inside was so gripping. I felt on edge wanting to know what happened to Amelia next with every turn of the page.
This story begins quite dark and has many shocking moments throughout, especially a huge twist that almost feels as though it winds you as a reader.

4.5 Stars, rounded down to 4.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC copy in exchange for a review!
Profile Image for Lucie V..
982 reviews1,527 followers
March 19, 2022
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you Midnight Tide Publishing). All thoughts and opinions are my own.

✅ Original idea
🆗 Character
🆗 Pace
🆗❌ Plot
❌ Insta-trust
❌ Ending?! (WTF?)

Amelia is a young girl with a strange affliction: once a month, pearls grow out from under her skin. Her mother views this as an easy way to make money since the pearls are all perfect and of very good quality. She controls every single aspect of Amelia's life and even keeps her locked in the attic when she leaves the house. But according to her mother, it's only because she wants Amelia to be safe from the dangerous and cruel world outside. Of course, Amelia feels trapped and the story begins with her plotting her escape. She manages to hide a few pearls every month and leaves as soon as she has enough to be able to survive on her own.

We follow Amelia as she is set on starting a new life, far away from her controlling mother. We can see that she is set on creating a new life, becoming more independent and that she slowly learns how to trust other people. The "human oyster" concept is quite original, but I feel that the author could have developed it more, I feel there is more potential there than simply having Amelia hiding her condition until she can trust people enough to let them know and then no one talks about it anymore.

Amelia is a nice character, I like that she is brave enough to leave her mother behind and not look back. We can clearly see that she has been sheltered her whole life, and does not know much about social interactions. Still, I found it weird that she trusted Peter immediately after bought some of her pearls and offered her to travel with him. I get that he seems very nice and trustworthy, but for someone who has been away from other humans for most of her life, she was a little naive at times. Overall, there is room for more character development for every character in this book.

My main issue with this book, however, is how easily all of Amelia's problems get resolved. She struggles for a few days when she leaves, then she meets nice people, finds a job, and a place to stay in the same day. Near the end of the book, she realizes that she should not have trusted one of her new friends, but we saw it coming because of hints that were dropped in the previous chapters ("If only I'd knew what I was getting into", "Looking back now, I was so stupid to trust him", etc.) so it wasn't even a real plot twist. Even so, she gets in big trouble for trusting the wrong person, but she manages to escape almost easily, and she remains calm and collected even after having to fight for her life.

The dialogues and events near the end were not as well written and developed as the rest of the book. Constellations of Scars is a story about survival, trust, and finding a place to belong. I have to say though that I am not sure what kind of book this is supposed to be, it's about survival and resiliency, yet there is a darker twist near the end with a sprinkle of serial killer and mental illness... It just felt all over the place. The pace and tone are also not consistent throughout the story. The last 20% felt rushed and weak, and it's what made me give this book such a low rating because the first part was worth 3.5 stars.

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Profile Image for Shannara.
436 reviews75 followers
June 4, 2021
I need a day to process my feelings here. Good book, but dang!! I’ll dig in to this tomorrow.

Okay, I’ve processed this book and I’m ready to share my thoughts!! First of all, this pearl thing had me interested from the start!!! I may be a weirdo but I seriously would love to see how that works!!!! Ahhhhh!!

Second, Amelia was such a cutie! I really liked her sweet, people pleaser personality. Anyway, my point is, the characters really add to the story.

Third, that plot was soooo intriguing!! For a while it was like watching a car accident unfold. Can’t seem to look away!! Then it went at breakneck speed to the end. The whole book was smooth and easy to read. And that ending!!!!! Ahhhh!!!!

I also like the nod to Bluebeard by Charles Perrault

There are so many questions that I have about the ending, which is why I chose four stars instead of five. But if there’s a sequel to add to this, I might just have to change my rating to five stars!! I guess we’ll see.

I recommend this to YA lovers. And to those who love oddities.

Thanks so much to NetGalley and Midnight Tide Publishing for allowing me to read this for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Check out this post and others on my blog @ https://shannarareads.com/?p=505
Profile Image for Alaina.
5,945 reviews215 followers
May 18, 2021
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Constellations of Scars gave me some Rapunzel (aka Tangled) meets The Greatest Showman vibes. Which, if I'm being completely honest - I'm not mad about. Instead of having glowing hair that can heal, Amelia can shed pearls once a month. Sounds gross and trust me - it was. I was very glad that I was eating anything when that was first happening.

Just like Mother Gothel, she keeps her in the house and makes sure she is there for every shedding. At first, Amelia didn't seem to care that she was hovering over her.. but when was getting older she didn't like it anymore. She just wanted to be alone while it was happening because it was very personal and she was always uncomfortable. Yet, mother dearest didn't care about that. She cared about her precious pearls.

Now you are probably wondering why I got the greatest showman vibes. Well, have no fear. Amelia finally went on her adventure after she gladly left her tower/Mother Gothel. She winds up at a museum full of some amazing characters that don't hide their true selves. The bearded lady sings and falls in love. Wolf boy is a sweet heart. Oh, and there's a murderer amongst the crew.

Details. Details. Just know that this was so hard to put down and very addicting. I loved the little twists towards the end. Even though I did predict some of what actually went down throughout this. Overall, loved the vibes and now I need to watch some movies.
Profile Image for Irene Well Worth A Read.
821 reviews63 followers
May 24, 2021
Amelia narrates what feels like a memoir, and due to that format I felt safe to assume that she would be ok (or at least alive) in the end. She never knew her father, and her mother refuses to speak about him. Other than that, she had a relatively normal childhood until puberty brought with it a strange affliction that made her feel like a human oyster. In addition to the monthly agony of shedding pearls that burst from her skin in a bloody mess, there was the constant pain of loneliness and a longing to be like other girls, with friends, slumber parties, and boyfriends. Amelia's mother won't even let her sit outside, never mind have any human interaction or go to school. She is kept in the house at all times, and when her mother goes out Amelia is locked in the attic. As she grows older she comes to realize that her mother's protection is more from greed than love and that is when she flees the confines of her mother's home. With no real knowledge of how the world works or how to interact with people other than what she learned from books, she makes her escape with the hope of building a life for herself.

Constellations of Scars lands somewhere between the borders of Grimm's fairy tale, and body horror. It is a unique coming of age story with a fast pace that kept me turning the pages.

I received a complimentary copy for review.
Profile Image for Amanda .
432 reviews151 followers
July 5, 2021
You can also read my review here: https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress....

Review: 3 Stars

This book is definitely unlike most books that I read, but the blurb sounded so interesting that I decided to pick it up. I originally thought that it might be a fantasy, but it’s set in the real world and while the pearl aspect is abnormal it isn’t a fantasy novel. The premise for the book was so intriguing that I picked it up the second that I got a review copy. Constellations of Scars was a really quick read that I finished in less than a day. I found myself captivated by the story and I found it hard to tear myself away because I needed to know what happened next.

Constellations of Scars had a fascinating premise and plot. I really enjoyed following Amelia’s story as she ran away from her abusive mother and tried to make a life for herself. The plot was full of twists and turns and I never knew what was going to happen next. The pacing was pretty fast and there were very few dull moments. It was a really interesting story with themes of abuse, independence and humanity. I feel like the plot was excellent and compelling, which really helped make up for some of the book’s flaws.

While the story itself was really good, the writing was not. I felt like the entire book lacked emotion. It’s told in first person from Amelia’s point of view as if she is telling us events that happened n the past. At times it felt like reading someone’s diary as mundane day to day events were explained. The author told us things rather than showing them through her writing which kept me from really connecting to the story and the characters. While the characters had interesting back stories the character development was really weak. The themes of abuse and independence could have made this a much more emotional read, but instead it felt a bit clinical. I also felt like the ending was a bit out there. I don’t want to give spoilers, but it just felt like the book suddenly went in a very different direction and while it was kind of cool, it just didn’t fit the story.

Constellations of Scars is a really intriguing story with poor writing and character development. But the premise of the book and its plot were so well done that I didn’t want to set it down. While this book didn’t have me emotionally invested I still really enjoyed reading it. If you’re looking for a unique book that you can finish pretty quickly then I would recommend Constellations of Scars even though the writing wasn’t great.
Profile Image for ReadsandThings.
188 reviews20 followers
April 24, 2021
I want to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Conscellations of Scars initially attracted me because of the gorgeous cover - I have a thing for skulls and flowers, to that was right up my alley! And the story made good on the promise of the cover art: starting out as a survivor-story of a young woman escaping from her overbearing mother, who keeps her as some sort of money-making slave, it quickly twists into a suspenseful thriller with horror elements, as Amelia has to learn that the true monsters aren't those that look gruesome, but instead can have the handsomest of faces.

The writing flowed easily and effortlessly, and it was a pleasure to breeze through this book - if I had to criticise anything, I would say that I might have wished for it to be a little longer, to give some of the elements of the story a little bit more space to be expanded on; but saying of a book that it's too short is really not a criticism, is it?

I would absolutely recommend this for fans of YA fantasy with a darker/horror twist.
Profile Image for Robin Bonne.
600 reviews141 followers
April 12, 2021
I just finished this book and my mouth is hanging open in shock. It starts out as a coming-of-age story, with a woman plotting to leave her abusive mother. Then, out of nowhere, it became a high-stakes thriller. So good. Don’t snooze on this book.

Amelia was a relatable character and I genuinely cared about what happened to her. The author did a fantastic job of keeping me turning pages.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.
Profile Image for Sara.
150 reviews2 followers
May 17, 2021
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for granting me access to this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Whenever I review a book that I personally don't like, I always make sure to find at least one point of recommendation for people. I know that everyone has different tastes, and what may not be for me could be someone else's favorite, or vice versa. However, I truly could not find anything about this book that I would use to persuade someone to read it. I'm going to write this review a bit different than how I normally write reviews, and I will not be placing it on my blog or sharing it via Twitter (I will be sharing it on Goodreads, though, as an explanation for my star-rating). I know that the author, editors, and publishers all took a lot of time and energy to produce this book, and I don't want to dwell on each piece of negative criticism for too long. So, instead of hashing out my thoughts in essay format, I'm going to just do bullet-points.

- The writing and pacing were very poor. Everything was told instead of shown to the point where it felt like the author was just listing off things that happened instead of painting a scene, and we never spent a lot of time developing any one point of the story, even in the beginning with the mother. This also made for a severe lack of emotional involvement from the reader's side of things.

- The dialogue was stale and stilted. It either felt too formal or too awkward, and most characters were just vague impressions instead of fully fleshed out.

- The last 30% of the book didn't fit with the first 70% at all. It made the whole ordeal with the troupe of performers feel unnecessary.

- The emotional reactions from various characters at the end didn't make any sense. All of the characters seemed either robotic and devoid of actual emotion, or they were completely fine after two pages. It made everything completely unrealistic and unbelievable.

- There was a particularly sensitive topic that became an important part of the end of the story, and I completely disagree with it being involved in this story. It was written poorly in various different ways, and it ended up being used more as a shock factor than actually contributing to the plot, deeming it completely unnecessary and distasteful. TW:
May 29, 2021
**ARC provided by NetGalley for an Honest Review**
This book took me completely by surprise. The blurb had me intrigued from the start and the intrigue continued throughout the book. For a young woman who can grow and expel pearls from her skin I had no idea what to expect or where the author would take such a story. It was all very complex and fascinating, I couldn't look away. I love that the author incorporated so much and so many different topics within the story because I was definitely on edge throughout. My biggest complaint is the abrupt end. It feels as if it was left far too open for me. Even without an epilogue with a HEA there were so many threads left dangling and I have so many questions. It does end on a good note but I'm a girl who lives for an epilogue, & so for this book to not have one and also leave me hanging it takes some of the thrill away. I’d say this would work best for mature YA readers. The heroine has lived a sheltered life and is in her early twenties but does date near the end of the book, there’s nothing explicit but keep that in mind. Overall I think this was a truly unique and fun read, I certainly enjoyed it from start to finish and now I'm left hoping the author left it open for another book down the road. Then again this is an ARC so maybe the final copy will have a more expanded end. Either way it was a great read and I'd def recommend checking it out upon it's release :)
Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,274 reviews23 followers
June 1, 2021
Every month since she was twelve years old, Amelia has grown a series of lumps on her back and shed perfect pearls instead of having a menstrual cycle.  Amelia's mother sees the peculiar gift as a reason to lock Amelia away for fear of anyone else finding out.  However, her mother also closely monitors Amelia's pearls and sells them for her own gain.  Homeschooled and not allowed to leave her house since she was twelve, the now 21 year old Amelia is plotting an escape.  Saving just a few pearls each month, Amelia decides she has enough for a bus ticket and picks her way out of the locked attic when her mother is gone.  Amelia finds herself in Portland, but without any skills, she is a fish out of water.  When trying to sell her pearls, Amelia meets Peter who is opening a museum of human oddities.  Without disclosing her secret, Amelia fits right in.  However, Amelia's trusting nature lands her right back into another prison. 

Constellations of Scars is a New Adult fantasy with a very intriguing plot.  I loved the idea of a monthly shedding of pearls, like a human oyster.  Amelia's mother gave off a Gothel vibe, saying she kept Amelia locked away for her own good.  Amelia's character was very interesting and the story is told from her point of view.  I do wish that she dove deeper into her feelings about the pearls, accepting herself, and learning how to be a person in the world.  It seems that everything just happens to her, rather easily, without much emotional connection. I was also very interested in all of the people at the museum and would have liked to know more about their backstories as well.  The pacing of the story seemed a little too fast for me, quickly jumping from one stage in Amelia's journey to the next without allowing time for Amelia to learn and grow.  The ending was especially fast.  The last part of the book abruptly changed to an engaging and heart-pounding thriller that could have been deeply explored and rounded out Amelia, Peter and Gabriel's characters even more.  Overall, a unique story of perseverance, acceptance and hope.  

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
Profile Image for Yazmin.
341 reviews37 followers
April 18, 2021
Thank to to publisher for providing me this e-Arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Charm is not everything.

This is a story about trust, loss and betrayal and the repercussions it has when everything happens with the people you thought had the best intentions towards you, I honestly did not expect it, of course, I suspected a character from the beginning because there were too many red flags but I was leaning more towards an abusive turn instead of the one we had, sincerely low-key I expected the protagonist to go another way from the beginning, because it would have been super cute, but 🤷🏻‍♀️

I was a bit annoyed by the protagonist naive demeanor, but I guess it fits her upbringing.

Btw, it's not fair that it ends like this, I expected at least an epilogue haha, what about her pearls? 😱
Profile Image for romi.
146 reviews5 followers
June 7, 2021
Not for me at all.
😞 Really had high hopes for this one. Especially with the tangled vibes and a "found-family trope" with performers at a museum of human oddities. But this was really meh. Not for me 🙁
Profile Image for Erin Arkin.
1,640 reviews358 followers
July 5, 2021
This is the first book I've read by Melissa Eskue Ousley but I hope it won't be the last. Constellations of Scars was definitely unique - it's about a girl, Amelia, who when she turns 12, she starts to grow pearls out of her back. After finding this out, her mother basically makes her a prisoner in her home.

When Amelia decides she isn't ok with how her mother is treating her, she starts to plan a way to escape and when she finally does, things change quickly for her. Amelia has led a sheltered life so now that she is out in the world, she has to learn quickly how to survive. When she meets a new family and becomes intertwined in their lives, she truly finds out just how dangerous things can get.

Overall, this was an interesting book. I can't quite compare it to anything I've read mostly because it is so out there in terms of Amelia's history and what happens to her but if you're looking for a book with a unique story, consider picking this one up.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Inkslinger.
225 reviews39 followers
June 11, 2021
Constellations of Scars by Melissa Eskue Ousley

ARC provided by Midnight Tide Publishing, Melissa Eskue Ousley, and Xpresso Book Tours. All opinions are mine and freely given.

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06-11: 'Constellations of Scars' by Melissa Eskue Ousley had such an unusual premise, I just couldn't pass it up. The story follows Amelia, a girl in her early twenties with one incredibly unique attribute. Her body grows pearls.

Every month, a crop of valuable pearls breaks through the skin along her back. Her mother considers it a blessing, but to Amelia it's the opposite. It's painful and humiliating. Each harvest offers a brief respite from the agony of the crop, but the scars left behind are almost as embarrassing as the cause.

Kept hidden, home-schooled, and even locked away at times in the attic to 'keep her safe,' Amelia just dreams of freedom. Having been told since the pearls began growing that if anyone finds out about her gift, she'll be held captive out of greed, she soon realizes she's already in that situation at home.

This is such a strange little story and I mean that in the nicest way. Amelia is not a weak girl, she really suffers with the crops of pearls and she has been through an awful experience with her mother. She's been isolated and controlled for almost half her life, stripped of any semblance of privacy, berated and abused.

Determined to achieve a better existence for herself, she sets goals and pushes hard toward them. She doesn't give up at the first sign of difficulty. Amelia is probably one of the strongest female protagonists I've ever read, without becoming overbearing or being turned into a tough stereotype. She shows moments of vulnerability, but perseveres.. even in the worst of moments.

Along the way, she finds a new family.. a group of human oddities that help run a museum on the coast. While she discovers what it's like to be on her own, experiences a lot of firsts, and even begins to form deep, long-lasting relationships.. not everything is sunny in the beachside town. There are dangers lurking that she isn't equipped to recognize.

While I did see part of the twist coming, it still went a completely different direction than I expected and I really enjoyed that. The supporting cast is a bit stereotyped, but they were lovely characters.. especially Gabriel.

If you're looking for something a bit strange, this one is a quick read. There is quite a bit of darkness here, but that just added to the atmosphere. It's not complex storytelling, but I think you'll find it's so intriguing that you won't mind.

Profile Image for Hélène Louise.
Author 17 books80 followers
May 4, 2021
I have mixed feelings about this read and feel a little bit uncomfortable reviewing it.

On the good side it was an easy read, quite a page-turner - and I easily get bored with books I don't really really like.
I loved the beginning, the way the author expose the heroine, living with her malediction, a horrible thing, like a fairy tale turned wrong. A mixed between the tale about pearls and toads and Rapunzel. The writer never forget once that Amelia has to live with her "illness" and organise all her life around it. That part was awesome. I loved it.

Alas, the first part of the book was clearly my favourite. The second part was good to begin with, original and lively, then a bit rushed; the turn it took surprised me, not in a good way: I was hoping for something different, more subtile, less showy. Especially as, if the author took pain to work on the heroine behavior and feelings in such dramatic events, the whole was she recovered from it way to fast, she could never have been okay so quickly after such traumatising events. The manner she had, too, to deal with her abusive mother, was very appropriate and healthy, but she could never have achieve such a elevated state of mind without years of therapy. It's a shame as the beginning of the book was precisely realistic and credible.
The very end was also to quick for my taste, and weird, as I was waiting for something else! Readers will understand what I mean :)

All in all a good read, but a heterogeneous text, which seemed to have been made by assembling various ideas and different parts, some worked in details, as the beginning, and some much less well-made, as the end and the choice to mix some themes (young adult and modern fairy tale was a hit for me, but the next part of the plot was over the top... overkill, even ^-^).

Still a lot of qualities, I'll be happy to read another book wrote by the author!
3, 5 stars, rounded up to 4 for personality and reading enjoyment.

(I thank Netgalley and Midnight Tide Publishing for sending me the ARC in exchange for my honest review)
5,870 reviews131 followers
August 21, 2021
Constellations of Scars is a young adult urban fantasy horror by Melissa Eskue Ousley. In this novel, a sheltered young woman harboring a striking condition discovers the outside world may be as harsh as her repressive mother claims.

Amelia Weaver believes the pearls agonizingly coming out of her upper arms and back is a monthly sickness. However, her mother sees it as a benefit, making good money by routinely selling the pearls. She keeps her daughter at home for years, asserting that people will lock Amelia up if they know what she can do. Her mother ensures Amelia stays put by confining her to the attic when she's away.

At age 21, Amelia absconds from her Roseburg, Oregon, home and heads to Portland, where she quickly has to deal with a lack of both money and shelter. Luckily, she finds a buyer for her pearls – a soon-to-open museum of “human oddities,” such as Gabriel, whose entire body is covered in hair.

This small museum community becomes like a family, and Amelia lives on her own with an apartment and a job. However, a condition such as hers isn’t one she’ll be able to keep secret for long and she will come to the unfortunate realization that people just as cruel and selfish as her mother are never far away.

Constellations of Scars is written rather well. Ousley's thematically rich tale packs a few punches. Characters are sublime, as the ones whom some call freaks are dynamic and tenderhearted while the rest of humanity includes a mugger and worse. Ousley gracefully describes disturbing scenes making these painful, bloody experiences palpable without graphic details with the latter half of the book taking a surprisingly drastic turn.

All in all, Constellations of Scars is an indelible story of loving oneself in a world of dreadful realities.
Profile Image for Nicole Williams.
59 reviews20 followers
April 22, 2021
I'd first like to thank NetGalley for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Constellation of Scars had an interesting premise where the main character, Mia, grew pearls on her back which led her mother to shelter her until Mia escaped and started her life anew.

Although the plot seemed promising, I found myself feeling as though it was a little disjointed. At first, I thought the pearls would play a bigger role where Mia would try to find the source of the phenomenon, maybe tracking down her father to see if he knew of her secret. However, it turned into a tale of found family and first loves, which was great, but then it turned into a thriller within the last quarter. It seemed as though the plot couldn't quite commit to where it wanted to go, ultimately leaving it falling flat for me.

I think this could have been an incredible read about found family, first loves, and new loves had the last bit of the book took a different direction, rather than a murder-mystery one.

Mia and Gabe's connection was undeniable (I really love Gabe and he deserves all the happiness) and I really wished we could have seen more of it, even it a short epilogue of some sorts. Whereas Mia and Peter's relationship seemed a little forced. She acknowledged something about Peter was off every so often and she also acknowledged she and Gabe had a connection, so it seemed strange to me she took to Peter initially.

Despite some of my criticisms, I did enjoy the book as it was a quick and unique read, however, I do think some of the plot and characters needed to be fleshed out a little bit more.
Profile Image for Poptart19 (the name’s ren).
814 reviews4 followers
April 14, 2021
3 stars

A tender story of survival, trust, finding a place to belong, & standing up for yourself. This starts off as a coming of age story with a teensy hint of fantasy-lite, then veers into crime fiction near the end. The pacing & tone of the story aren’t consistent, & there isn’t anything particularly unique about this book, but I did enjoy it & the narration is nice.

[What I liked:]

•Nothing particularly groundbreaking or insightful here, but I did appreciate & relate to Mia’s descriptions of living with a chronic health condition & how it becomes “normal” in the sense that’s all you know, & the difficulties of having people complain or act controlling about your body.

•I liked Amelia’s 1st person narration. While I dislike how much she tells the reader instead of showing & her sometimes heavy-handed philosophizing, her character voice is smooth & believable for a young woman.

[What I didn’t like as much:]

•I’m not sure what genre this is meant to be. The themes are consistent: gaining confidence & independence, & finding a place to belong. Everything else meanders: plot, pace, genre, tone.

•The “human oyster” concept was interesting, but I feel like more could have been done with it. She presumably loses the “curse”/“gift” by the end of the story, but we don’t learn how she feels about that. All the other characters’ unique features are explained with medical diagnoses, & since there are zero other supernatural elements I’m assuming the pearls are meant to be as well. It’s just that the synopsis teased me with magical realism & there really isn’t any.

•There was room for a lot more character development for Gabe, Vincent, & Peter. Especially more depth could have been added for Mia’s relationships with both brothers. Mia just tells us how things were or how people felt, & it doesn’t leave as much space for demonstrating them through character interactions.

•The story is fine, but it’s similar in plot to other books I’ve read (like the second half of Middlesex). I don’t mean that this book is a copycat, but I have read similar stories that were done better, & in comparison I’m not sure this book will be memorable for me.

CW: child exploitation, murder, assault, infidelity, miscarriage

[I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]

Profile Image for Marta Cox.
2,534 reviews189 followers
April 22, 2021
I absolutely got pulled into this unusual story about a girl trapped because her body produces actual pearls. Her mother whilst not deliberately cruel certainly has issues and Amelia is desperate for a different life. She finally manages to get away and travels to Portland where initially her life is far from pleasant . However Amelia has a plan to sell her pearls and fund her new life but when she tries to get a buyer she meets Peter who changes her life.
I enjoyed reading Amelias perspective and she certainly goes on a journey to find freedom and happiness. She's perhaps too trusting at times and certainly naive but I could empathise with her as her life up to now had been in many ways lonely. As much as things seemed to improve for her I did keep waiting for the other shoe to drop as they say. It certainly did but not in the way I had imagined which was certainly a shock. If I'm picky I thought the end was rushed and I would have preferred the last few chapters to have been longer and more detailed because everything just seemed very quick but I did enjoy this story and thought the cover art was lovely.
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
Profile Image for Jessica Belmont.
1,482 reviews44 followers
June 11, 2021
Constellations of Scars by Melissa Eskue Ousley was a hard to put down, addicting read that was fast paced and thoroughly entertaining. It’s a bit of a fairytale and a horror story, which was a really intriguing mix of genres.

The cover is what drew me to reading this story and thankfully, I judged a book by its cover this time. What was inside the pages was excellent. I loved the writing. It kept me engaged from page one.

The characters are excellent as well. I felt like I was able to connect to them, easily.

The only downside was, I wish it was longer! Otherwise, I loved it. Definitely recommend giving it a read!

Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for the review copy and opportunity to honestly review on the blog tour. All opinions are my own and unbiased.
Profile Image for ScavengedReads.
251 reviews6 followers
April 14, 2021
Constellation of Scars starts with gripping introduction of Amelia planning to escape her mother who has been holding her captive for the past 9 years in order to use Amelia for the pearls she grows. At this point I'm thinking we're getting a Rapunzel retelling!!!

The Pearl plot seemed to be the main driver of the story, which is what made the story so enticing and unique (so excited for a Rapunzel retelling), but oddly the Pearls do not end up playing a role in the rest of the story. They could very easily be written out and nothing would change. "Young girl of controlling/abusive mother escapes and runs away to the big city, meets a man who offers. her a job" rest of the story would continue the exact same.

After the dark introduction of Amelia's life so far with her mother, the tension builds as she escapes and naively trusts people, as I am fully of dread and foreboding the story completes changes into a cheerful story of Amelia's daily life with found family absent of any conflict causing me to wonder where the plot went for the next 100 pages. There does end up being a conclusion to what would have been a great mystery had that been the plot rather than the pearls. Unfortunately since the mystery is only introduced 3/4 into the book I cannot hint at it without revealing any spoilers.

Overall this was a fun quick read, it does drag in the middle, but considering I read it in 2 hours the slow parts are over quickly. I do wish I could give spoilers because I think this would appeal to many non-fantasy thriller readers, whereas the synopsis makes it seem more of a true fantasy than is accurate.
Profile Image for Emma.
516 reviews40 followers
May 23, 2021
A mixed horror and fantasy book based on the tales of Bluebeard and Rapunzel. Interesting start but then it became a bit predictable. The characters fall a bit flat, it was difficult to connect with them and in the end you did not care for any of them.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.
Profile Image for Michele Skaggs.
Author 3 books25 followers
May 8, 2021
Not all gifts are a blessing. Some are a curse.
This book was so interesting! It was a real page turner and that twist at the end, man! Crazy! I loved this story so much! It was written incredibly well! I definitely recommend it!
Profile Image for Shaylee.
306 reviews41 followers
May 11, 2021
Ending is rushed. Conflict isn't fleshed out much and is resolved almost instantly but a fun quick read!
Profile Image for Tiffany Spencer.
1,320 reviews14 followers
December 23, 2021
Constellation of Scars
When Amelia was 12, she started to notice a red inflammation on her skin. The inflammation all of a sudden one day decided to rip open, and out spilled a pearl. Followed by more pearls. Her mother used this as a way to get rich and begin to hold her hostage. Knowing that should she ever leave so would her fortune. So Amelia decides to save up enough pearls, buy a ticket, and make a break for it. So she decides to go to Portland. Now all she has to do is wait for the pearls to harvest. She tests one a little too early and it’s not quite ready.

Even though Amelia’s mother may sound crazy as all get out to us, she takes up for her. Her mother’s mother passed so she lived with her father. When she was a teenager, Amelia’s mother meet her father Trent. But he cheated on her and left them when Amelia was still young. (Even though NO! This really isn’t an excuse for LOCKING YOUR DAUGHTER IN AN ATTIC! What if there’s a fire? This is like an abused woman saying “Oh my husband locks me in an attic because he doesn’t trust me but he gives me all kinds of jewelry and clothes so he’s not so bad). Amelia says she’s always given her books. Then her mother is an obsessive neat freak (which really she kind of sounds like my mother). “I could never please her. Whenever I tried to clean, she’d take over, pointing out how I was doing it wrong. If I gave up trying, she’d yell at me for being lazy. I couldn’t win.
In Mid-March, Amelia is finally able to sell her pearls, get a bus ticket, and get the hell out of dodge. Amelia isn’t into the city long before she’s held at knifepoint and robbed of the only thing she’s brought (a backpack with some clothes, and cash inside). Amelia heads back to the bus station. A nice lady directs her to a shelter. But as luck would have it the guy who stole her backpack is at the shelter. She waits till he goes to the bathroom, takes it backs, then leaves. She finds food and decides she’ll head to the library to look up jewelers. She eventually finds a potential high-end jewelry store and place to stay if she can get a good harvest. And it happens at an all-night Pancake house (61 pearls the largest batch yet).

Amelia is able to get an offer at Gatsby’s (the high-end boutique) for 100.00 each for five pearls and a possible contract if the pearls sell. There she meets a man named Peter who offers her lunch and another proposal. He and his father are starting a museum for humans with oddities (because his father has webbed feet) and in the dedication of his mother (who saved him when some kids tried to drown him). So they’re sitting up an exhibit that will have a mermaid dive into a tank and offer one of the people who visit an oyster with a real pearl inside. He offers Amelia the role but she quickly turns it down (the costume would show off her scars). He then pays her 200.00 each for 10 pearls. He invites her to come to Seaside the next day (DON’T TRUST IT! This guy shows up asking you to be a part of his museum of HUMAN ODDITIES?! And you didn’t think that was SHADY AS HELL?)

The next day Amelia is shown the beach, given a tour of the museum, and introduced to the “cast”: a piano player (Charlie-who might be trans-verdict out), her beard lover with the voice of an angel (Elena), a comedic man with fish scales that glow (Sid) and the artistic (yet reclusive) adopted brother of Peter (Gabe). (Gabriel favors Beast from X-Men. Vincent also introduces her to Beth (who has visible tumors) who’ll be over the gift shop. Vincent’s goal is to hire people that other people might not because of physical attributes to call attention to and make aware of biases. He hooks her up with a check, a temporary place to stay, and a possible permanent one. Also a bank account (to cash the check). This seals the deal! Amelia has found a new home in Seaside.(I’m waiting on the other shoe to drop. This all seemed to convenient). Vincent invites Amelia to stay in the guest house for the night. At dinner, he tries to get Gabriel to open up to Amelia about his family, but this further alienates him and he leaves and goes to his room. Vincent and Amelia talk over doing the dishes and the subject comes up of how she got started in the pearl business. This leads to questions about her relationship with her mother. Vincent presses her if she’ll call but Amelia says that just isn’t a good idea. Vincent says he’ll support her either way. Gabriel and Amelia bond over a painting she buys of his for her new place. He shares his story of being sold to ‘uncle” and caged. He used to strength to kill his uncle’s guard and was set free and adopted by Vincent. Amelia gets Gabriel to see that he doesn’t have to share his story because it will just consume him. Instead, he can share his enjoyment of painting. Amelia starts to see a time or two that Peter has anger issues, but she puts it off to just him being a perfectionist and a professional (as we tend to do when she noticed red flags). Amelia meets the mermaid -Chandra- as they work closely together to adjust her costume to cover her tats. Amelia herself becomes the circus barker. The portrait Gabriel did of her is hung by the ticket booth-but because Chandra gives her a new look-she hopes the portrait doesn’t somehow get back to her mother. Amelia takes over the role of the mermaid when Chandra abruptly leaves town with an ex.

Everything goes well until the pearls come early and a visitor screams from seeing blood filling up the tank. Amelia then admits the truth to Peter and Gabe. They promise to keep it between them. Afterward Amelia finds out Gabe is upset with her for lying to him especially after he told her his whole story-. Amelia begins to get closer to Peter forgetting about Gabe. Amelia’s mother tracks her down and they have it out. Gabe and Peter show her the door. This rekindles the friendship of Ameilia and Gabe. Mia and Peter end up having sex, but then he starts doing shady is (going on a lot of trips, flirting with girls at the museum).

Peter takes Mia away to a romantic trip in his cabin. While there she notices a hidden door, but when asked what it is he just says it’s a storage cellar for his tools. He warns her not to After getting sick on the trip, Mia takes a test and finds out she’s pregnant. Mia finally is able to check out the basement and finds the head of Chandra and the head of the girl he flirted with. Peter then finds her and ties her to a column. (I KNEW IT! Peter gives Amelia a test and leaves her there two days will be going out of town (to earn his trust back). He tells her he killed the girls because it’s an addiction that he had to release in order not to hurt her, Amelia waits until Peter is back takes a screwdriver she finds and jams it in his neck (killing him). She tries to escape. Only Peter hide her shoes. Gabe shows up and she tells him everything. (Including how she miscarried). He tells her he knew something was off when Peter said she decided to go home and he took her to the bus stop. So he followed him. At the hospital, Mia finds out that she’s still pregnant. She tells Gabe she wants him in her life and he says he can be whatever she needs. In time Mia and Vincent find a place of peace of what happened. She stays on at the museum doing the books. They all agree not to mention Peter. The baby is born and her name is Rose Weaver. Charlie and Elena are there when she’s born,

My Thoughts: Constellation of Scars was an unusual yet interesting choice for a book to read. It had been on my “too read” list for a while. Something unexpected happened as I was thinking of what my last two books would be this year to meet my goal. My best friend asks could he pick the books. Surprised I said sure and I said if your serious go on my Good Reads page and pick two. So this one was the first one he picked. Lol I’m not surprised he picked this one, it had a skull on the cover and reading the description it just sounds weird (a girl that grows pearls from her skin).

Getting past the strange first impression of that, I started to relate to the character A LOT! I myself have had a condition since the age of 12 that as I got older worsened and for the most part has left me dependent. Often it’s left me feeling trapped in a house and yearning for a life outside of the walls I grew up in. Often like Amelia, I have dreamed of escaping. But as I read about how Amelia arrives in this new place wanting to start her life over and the struggles she went through (the mugging, the having to sleep in shelters, etc) that it’s not always so easy to start over. I took this as a life lesson. That is until things got a little *too* good too quick and that’s when it got sketchy for me.

I know Amelia had limited experience with people but COME ON! A man you have never seen before a day in your life in a new place takes you to a restaurant and starts spilling his father’s life story about how he’s an oddity and then invites you to see a museum he and his Dad are building to display and show off other humans with oddities. YEEEEAH! If that wasn’t a red light. I kept thinking that it was a trap and once she got there it was going to be a trap by the mom and they were going to lock her up and force her to be a part of the show. Then the mother would show up and be like “See I told you” and reveal she was behind it all along. That she’d be connected with these people and they’d all profit off Mia. I kept waiting and waiting for the other shoe to drop. That’s why I wasn’t surprised with it turned out Peter was a pycho path. The whole setup just felt WRONG! I was only surprised that he was the *only* one.

There was a message I really liked about this book. It was the one Amelia gave Gabe about his business being his business. Someone very special to me has a spouse that just like Peter’s father keeps trying to “persuade” (force) him to tell a very painful memory about his childhood. And it often angers me because it has to be THEIR CHOICE! These days people are so caught up in this social media age where they think they have to share EVERY GINLE FREAKING DETAIL of their lives online. You DO NOT HAVE TO SHARE EVERYTHING! It’s okay to keep some things to yourself. And I was glad Gabe kept that part of himself to himself. I liked Gabe for Amelia! He was the one I thought she *would* end up with instead of Peter. I’m glad it turned out that way in the end. I think Amelia as a character showed A LOT of STRENGTH and COURAGE! Even though she was naïve and inexperienced she didn’t just curl up and weep in the basement and wait to be a victim. SHE TOOK PETER OUT! I just wish she would have been just a lil bit smarter.

Rating: 7
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Book Charmed.
68 reviews9 followers
April 10, 2021
This was definitely a page turner. Not exactly what I was expecting. I thought this would have had more fantasy elements, but this is more on the lines of being a survivor story. It definitely had some suspenseful/thriller moments. The writing was fairly easy to get into, and it kept me interested. I read this in a day and had a fun experience while doing so. Give this one a try!
Profile Image for Lauren Abery.
82 reviews1 follower
July 21, 2021
I definitely read this book for the cover, but the story was great too! the ending was a little too quick for my liking but i would still recommend any readers to give this a try.
Profile Image for Gabby.
98 reviews5 followers
April 24, 2021
Thank you to Midnight Tide Publishing for the ARC of this book!

2.5 Stars

First I want to comment on how beautiful the cover of this book is!! It’s what initially drew me in and the synopsis definitely kept me intrigued.

The idea was quite unlike anything I’ve read before. A girl that grows pearls out of her back and has to run from a controlling mother, sounds extremely unique. And this book definitely was!

The pacing was quick but done well for the majority of the book. It hooked me immediately and kept me interested the entire time. The only pacing issue I found was when the book abruptly ended. Like everything was going well and I turned the page and it said “Acknowledgements.” To say I was shocked would be an understatement. Not that it was a terrible ending necessarily, and there were no loose ends or anything. It just made the book seem a bit pointless. I’m not sure what the true purpose of this book was.

We follow Amelia on her journey away from her controlling mother, through homelessness to finding a family she feels she can almost be herself around. But when someone she starts to trust betrays her she has to reopen up and learn to retreat her found family. And that’s kind of all there was to this book.

The part that’s really bugging me aside from the abrupt ending was the betrayal part. It was completely unrelated to her pearls as you would possibly expect. The pearls which were the main focus most of the book, just completely got disregarded and were never talked about again. The whole pearl thing was really interesting until it just was never discussed again. I think the idea on this one was great, but the execution could’ve been a bit better.
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