cover image A Wilderness of Stars

A Wilderness of Stars

Shea Ernshaw. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-6659-0024-9

Seventeen-year-old Vega, the Astronomer, must partner with the fabled Architect to save a world ravaged by a fictional plague in this slow-burning, atmospheric romance by Ernshaw (Winterwood). Vega’s mother is the Astronomer, a custodian of celestial knowledge whose powers are passed matrilineally through the generations. Vega, who has never left their isolated rural valley, knows she will one day inherit the mantle, but it occurs sooner than expected when, after a sign in the stars foretells an omen, Vega’s mother dies, leaving her alone to venture beyond the valley. Vega seeks the Architect, a man tasked with leading her on a destined quest to save humankind from the consumption, a lethal illness. While she was expecting the Architect to be a learned philosopher, she instead finds charming teenage Noah. Together the duo must contend with supply scarcity, extreme and dangerous weather, and violent fanatics who are hunting for the Astronomer. Mystery and romance unfurl at an unhurried clip, and Vega’s absorbing first-person narration lends immediacy to this existential tale, which evokes an old western feel and hints at a larger potential world. Vega is described as having copper-colored skin. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jess Regel, Helm Literary. (Nov.)