The old adage goes, “Never judge a book by its cover.”

Yet I was quite guilty of that going into Starfall.   It wasn’t so much the actual cover (which is quite stunning) but rather the contents of said book.  Starfall is a sequel to Melissa Landers’ Starflight which, in turn, is a book that I’ve never read.  It’s a Young Adult space opera about a runaway princess on a spaceship.  In my mind…I was imagining Princess Vespa on the Eagle 1.  If you are a fan of Landers first book you might not get that reference.  I get it…I’m old.  Don’t bother looking it up because the book is NOTHING like that reference.

I was actually quite surprised at the depth of this novel and how well it brought me into a universe.  As a nerdy kid I grew up reading Star Wars novelizations and I always thought those authors did such a great job submerging me into a universe.  It felt like you were reading about spaceships flying through space.

Landers does that as well.  It starts off with bunkmates Princess Cassia Rose and Kane Arric – two friends (with benefits) who escaped Cassia’s homeworld Eturia.  They are on the outs and Kane moves bedrooms (even though they are in a cramped ship).  At first I was really like she’s writing this just because she wants some drama right away as a Young Adult novel.  Once again – I was wrong.  When I got to the point I found out I was wrong I just stopped assuming things about this book and just read it.  Once I did that I had a great deal of excitement and pleasure from reading.

After landing on a planet Cassia and Kane leave the ship and go separate ways.  Kane possibly finds a job that might be the best thing that ever happened to him.  Cassia ends up being captured by bounty hunters and returned to her home planet.  The planet is not what it once was.  Ravaged by war she comes face to face with the man she was supposed to marry but ran away from.  Her flight from marriage is what started the war on her planet.  Now that man is looking for spiteful revenge.

Meanwhile Kane and his shipmates, once they realize what happened, start making their way to try and rescue the captured Princess at all costs.  But what they end up finding is not the situation they thought they would find themselves in.

Starfall is a space opera that is also full of war, political intrigue, and those ravaged by a world that had been full of fighting.  There was so much depth to this book that it astounded me.  It feels like Queen Elizabeth Tudor in space with a splash of Firefly.  The questions like does Kane find Cassia, does Cassia escape her captor, and what happens next are just the beginning of this book.  Bounty hunters, spaceships, and romance – what is there not to love?

The backstory of what came first before Cassia boarded the Banshee spaceship sounded amazing and I found myself wishing I had read the first book Starflight before starting this book.  Reading the reviews of that book it seems that it is about a couple of different characters.  I’m not sure if Cassia and Kane are subplots in that book that are brought to the forefront in this sequel. Doran, Solara, and the Banshee from the first book do appear in the second book but again I don’t know if the first one directly leads into the second and tells how Cassia and Kane join the crew.  Either way it really seems that when they say you don’t need to read the first book to enjoy the second one this seems to be very true.  Starfall is able to stand alone as a standalone.  HOWEVER – I am going to seek out the first book right away and read it.  Then probably reread Starfall again.

Melissa Landers crafted an amazing book that balances intensity, romance, and war all in space.  It’s a hell of a read.  For years I’ve been looking for that “new series” to satisfy my reading cravings.  I think I’ve finally found it.