Book Review - To Astera, With Love by Amanda Ross
I have never read a book quite like To Astera, With Love by Amanda Ross, and I doubt I will ever read one quite like it ever again. To call it unique feels like an understatement—its allegory is innovative, its voices are refreshing, and its resonance has yet to leave me.
The premise of the book is alluring, and boy, does it deliver. Witches and vampires, magic and a hint of romance? I’m in. Add some clever sarcasm, developed character dynamics, and a magic system that isn’t over-explained, and I’m very in.
To Astera, With Love tackles the ever difficult issues of prejudice and racism elegantly and clearly with its allegorical tensions between witches and vampires. Witches are blatantly oppressed by vampires and their supporters. At first, the hate crimes and killings and prejudice is jarring. It surpasses horrifying once you realize that Ross didn’t have to use her imagination to come up with these atrocities. They have all happened in our country to Black people and other minorities. She doesn’t shy away from the horror, as she shouldn’t.
All the characters are very strong (both in their writing and in who they are). Their voices are distinct from each other, and each one has something at stake. But even more than the characters, I love their dynamics with each other. Mercury has a different type of relationship with each of the other four main characters, and they all have relationships to each other that differ from their other ones. They laugh, and they fight, and they seem to hate each other at some points, but the scenes where the five of them were together were always my favorites.
The plot is paced nicely, with moments of tentative lull breaking up instances of intense action. The disparate events still felt like part of the same story because of how they led into each other, which is something hard to attain (I know from experience).
To Astera, With Love is a book I will keep coming back to. It’s profound without losing an ounce of fun, and while there are some extremely heavy parts, other scenes will not fail to put a smile on your face. Now more than ever, it’s so important to have conversations and think about the topics that To Astera, With Love handles. This book is a fantastic way to ease yourself into the movement if you are not yet a part, and a fantastic way to reaffirm the vitality of dismantling systems of oppression in Mercury’s world and in ours.
You can find To Astera, With Love here.
*Disclaimer: I was a beta reader for this book, but all opinions are completely my own. Review has been written about the final published version of the book.