Amid Stars and Darkness – Chani Lynn Feener – The Xenith Trilogy #1 – Swoon Reads – Published 18 July 2017




Delaney’s entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on Earth in order to escape an arranged marriage.

Kidnapped by the princess’s head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race.

No pressure or anything.

Factor in Trystan, the princess’s terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets, and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.

My thoughts

Amid Stars and Darkness is an enjoyable science-fiction novel. It mixes lots of romance with a touch of suspense in a story where aliens regularly visit Earth and a human girl is forced to experience life on an alien planet first hand.

When Delaney is mistaken as the alien princess, Lissa Olena, from a neighbouring planet, she is forcibly removed from Earth by Olena’s bodyguard. It’s one thing to know aliens walk around on Earth, Delaney’s even met a few, but it’s very different pretending to be their princess. She will have to convince everyone she is Olena – even Olena’s betrothed – if she is to prevent a war.

Every so often I have the desire to read a really epic fantasy or sci fi. Something that transports me to a vivid place far, far away. Amid Stars and Darkness certainly captured my attention. I enjoyed disappearing into its pages and the world building was good, even if I would have enjoyed seeing a lot more of the society, culture, and landscape of the alien world. The alien world is actually quite familiar to our Earth. It makes it easy to recognise, different enough to feel ‘alien’, but is ultimately very similar. Technology is more advanced, but no more than something Tony Stark might carry with him. The aliens are all physically and anatomically the same as humans, and while they have different names for ranks and roles, most are parallel to those on Earth. There are also no changes in gravity or atmosphere. Food, animals and plant life were the things that were slightly different but all had reference points to earthly things. Actually, this book sometimes felt a little like Stephenie Meyer’s The Host and it does share a few similarities – a girl with another girl’s face and identity, two guys, one seemingly the enemy the other a nice ally, and, despite the universe being much bigger than originally known, a restricted setting.

Delaney is a strong female character. Unfortunately she is surrounded by domineering, overbearing, egotistical males. Urggh. There are few other female characters and none who come across as strong, intelligent females. Delaney is compassionate, unafraid to speak her mind, physically capable of defending herself, intelligent, and kind – something everyone around her notes as a vast difference from the real Olena. Also, everyone is physically beautiful in this book. Sure, the aliens might have some genetic differences, but I would have liked a reason for them all to be tall, gorgeous, and strong!

I did find a few things were a bit too convenient, like absentee parents. Amid Stars and Darkness has a very mature or new adult feel. Delaney lives independently, and while it’s said she attends boarding school, it could have easily been university or college. The content level is also fairly mature, which is fine, it just means I won’t be able to promote this to all our teen readers.

This book lost points almost immediately for using “being that” to start a sentence a few pages in. And then it happened a few times more. I hate this phase, which is not correct or formal language and has no place in a well-edited book. Sorry, rant over now.

The book ends with a cliffhanger, but I’ve got to say that I was happy about this because if the book continued in the way it was ending, I would have been very unhappy. Far too tidy and domestic for my taste.

The romance plays a big part in the story. I hope that the next books in the series will enable readers to explore more of the culture, politics, and environment of the alien peoples. However, the romance is set against plenty of action and tension as multiple attempts are made on Delaney’s life. Delaney and Ruckus form a strong connection fairly quickly. They have great chemistry but also have a relaxed and peaceful air about them when they are together – which is the majority of the book. I also enjoyed their lighthearted banter and teasing, which provides relief from the rest of the story.

Overall, Amid Stars and Darkness was an enjoyable sci-fi novel – perfect for someone who thinks they don’t like sci-fi or wants an easy transition into the genre.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

More information

Category: Young adult fiction.

Genre: Science-fiction.

Themes: Space, romance, relationships, aliens, technology, politics, ruling class, royalty, arranged marriages.

Reading age guide: Ages 15 and up.

Advisory: Infrequent coarse language, f*** (1), sh** (14), bit** (8), di** (3). Sexual references, implied sex scenes (fade to black) and SPOLIER – characters move in together and references to them sleeping together.

Published:  18 July 2017 by Swoon Reads.

Format: Hardcover, ebook. 368 pages.


Find it on Goodreads