Set the Stars Alight – Amanda Dykes – Bethany House Publishers  -Published 30 June 2020




Lucy Clairmont’s family treasured the magic of the past, and her childhood fascination with stories of the high seas led her to become a marine archaeologist. But when tragedy strikes, it’s Dashel, an American forensic astronomer, and his knowledge of the stars that may help her unearth the truth behind the puzzle she’s discovered in her family home.

Two hundred years earlier, the seeds of love are sown between a boy and a girl who spend their days playing in a secret sea cave, while the privileged young son of the estate looks on, wishing to join. As the children grow and war leads to unthinkable heartbreak, a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption unfolds, held secret by the passage of time.

As Lucy and Dash journey to a mysterious old estate on the East Sussex coast, their search leads them to a community of souls and a long-hidden tale that may hold the answers–and the healing–they so desperately seek.

My thoughts

I am amazed at how Amanda Dykes has crafted the stories in Set The Stars Alight, how she has woven together two stories or overcoming great grief and challenges, incorporated a thrilling mystery that seems hard to believe isn’t real and all this done with a lyrical prose that sweeps the reader away.

Lucy grew up knowing the love of her parents and the stories they told her and her childhood friend, Dash. Now she has lost both parents and Dash has moved away to study the stars, but her career path – marine archaeologist – was formed through the mysteries and stories her parents shared with her. When her application for a grant to uncover the story of a ship that disappeared over 200 years ago is threatened, Dash remarkably returns to Lucy’s life and offers to join with her in her search. 200 years earlier, three lives were interwoven – a shepherd’s daughter, the young man she loved and the young boy of the estate. Their journey is forged through grief, wars, betrayal, great sacrifice and song and now 200 years later, Lucy and Dash are determined to unravel the clues of their story.

I confess I didn’t read this book at the best of times. I started it during the last week of the school term and tried to read it even though my brain was running on fumes and all I wanted to do was sleep. I don’t feel as I gave this book the attention it deserved and I would recommend to other readers that you save this for when you have a few spare afternoons, time and brain power to devote to the very clever story and wonderfully detailed writing style. Nevertheless, I was swept away by this remarkable book. It really is a little magical, a story of great sacrifice, puzzles, adventure, seafaring and romance.

I was so impressed by how the two stories came together and were woven so seamlessly. While Lucy and Dash’s romance is very sweet and their discovery of the story that occurred 200 years ago important to the plot overall, it was the historic story of Frederick that I really enjoyed. I loved Frederick’s voice, his grief and desperate hope to care for the people he had claimed as his, even if he knew they did not feel the same way about him. It was utterly heartbreaking and I’m so happy he got the ending he did.

I won’t say too much about the plot, as I think the unfolding of it all is what makes it so magical, but suffice to say there is everything of a great epic in it – stars and storytelling, wars and love, betrayal and great sacrifice.

If you love romance, mysteries and historical fiction, you are sure to delight in Set The Stars Alight.

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

More information

Category: Adult fiction

Genre: Christian Historical/ Contemporary

Themes: History, Napoleonic wars, friendship, stories, family, friendship, romance, belonging, stars, nautical archaeology, sacrifice, ships, sailing.

Published: 30 June 2020 by Bethany House Publishers.

Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 352 pages.

ISBN: 9780764236334

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