The Astrologer’s Daughter by Rebecca Lim

December 12, 2014 Reviews 4 ★★★★

The Astrologer’s Daughter by Rebecca LimThe Astrologer's Daughter by Rebecca Lim
Published: July 23rd 2014 by Text Publishing
Format: Paperback, 364 pages
Genres: Paranormal
Source: Purchased
Goodreads BooktopiaBookworld
4 Stars

My mother always called it the eventuality. Not the maybe, or the probably. ‘It’s going to happen,’ she would tell me calmly. ‘I even know when. It’s a twist in my stars. It’s written there, and we have to accept it. My mother, Joanne Nielsen Crowe. She has a name, she’s not a was.

Avicenna Crowe’s mother, Joanne, is an astrologer with uncanny predictive powers and a history of being stalked. Now she is missing.

The police are called, but they’re not asking the right questions. Like why Joanne lied about her past, and what she saw in her stars that made her so afraid.

But Avicenna has inherited her mother’s gift. Finding an unlikely ally in the brooding Simon Thorn, she begins to piece together the mystery. And when she uncovers a link between Joanne’s disappearance and a cold-case murder, Avicenna is led deep into the city’s dark and seedy underbelly, unaware how far she is placing her own life in danger.

With its lyrical writing and quirky characters, The Astrologer’s Daughter is one of the most moving books I’ve read in a while. It’s a beautiful story about identity, secrets, and love, and I have enjoyed it a lot.

Avicenna’s mother is an astrologer. Not a psychic, and definitely not a fraud, but a true astrologer who works out the charts of her clients and then tells them what they’ve come to hear (or not hear, as the case may be). She’s kind-hearted and sympathetic, and from the very first sentence of this book, missing.

I think the best way to describe this story is real. Lim holds nothing back, and readers are taken with Avicenna on an emotional journey as she reports her mother missing, is harassed by her mother’s more ardent clients, and begins to piece together clues that tie her mother’s disappearance to an unsolved cold case. I was gripped by the writing style and Avicenna’s voice from the first page.

Avicenna is an outcast: she’s moved around a lot and won’t discuss her past, she has a Chinese father she barely remembers and looks like an outsider, and she has burn scars on her face that further ostracize her. Teenagers are cruel – actually, the world is cruel, and Avicenna cops more of it than is fair.

I love that Lim doesn’t shy away from the realities of being born in Australia but looking so obviously not-white. So so so many books in YA just have characters who are half-white and half-‘exotic’ (*vomit*) just to fulfil some horrifying diversity quota, and then don’t actually explore the feeling of displacement: of belonging in two cultures and in neither at the same time, of the prejudices and racism that still affects people today. But The Astrologer’s Daughter explores it all: the people who yell Chink-lover at Avicenna’s mother, the strangers who use their fingers to make their eyes ‘slanted’, the boy who wants Avicenna to cover up her burns so that he won’t have to look at them.

One of my favourite characters in this book is the Missing Persons police officer who becomes Avicenna’s liaison on the case. This, refreshingly, isn’t a story of a teenager taking a missing persons (or homicide) case all on their own. She works with the police and they support her in very way they can, which I loved. It doesn’t rob Avicenna of her agency but rather makes the story more believable, and it was great to see how the adults around her banded together to help her out.

Combined cleverly with all that is real and raw about this world is the undercurrent of magic in this narrative: the astrology. Although technically not magic, there’s no denying this book focusses on both the mystical and mathematical aspects of astrology. It works in the story like a magic system: there are clearly defined rules and the protagonist uses it to solve her mystery.

I’ve never read a story like The Astrologer’s Daughter and I don’t think I’m going to any time soon. It’s a uniquely magical and evocative book, one I recommend to everyone.

4 Responses to “The Astrologer’s Daughter by Rebecca Lim”

  1. Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity

    Yay! I’m so glad you liked this one, Shaheen 😀

    Now that you mention it, I think one of my favourite aspects of this book was that it wasn’t a teenage investigator type story. The police officer (I can’t remember his name) was really kind, and he was definitely an awesome character.

    I noticed that you didn’t mention Simon, though *shocked gasping* What did you think of him? I simple adored him, and I really hope that in the universe of The Astrologer’s Daughter they get together.

    I actually kind of wish this was a series (which is weird, because I’m usually saying the opposite), as I think that Avicenna and her life would be so interesting to follow!

    Anyway, once again: I’m glad you liked this one! And wonderful review ^.^

    • Shaheen

      Hello! Thanks for hopping by 🙂 Your question about Simon is exactly why I didn’t mention him.

      In my opinion, the point of this book was not ‘girl lost her mother, and decides to look for her with the help of awesome-boy Simon Thorn’, but rather ‘girl lost her mother, and looks for her using astrology, the support of some truly remarkable people in her life, and a weirdo connection to a cold case.’

      When one mentions a boy in a review everyone starts looking for the romantic story, and although I think it’s nice to hope that they’re together inside the book, this story is so much more than that and I didn’t want to mention him in case it took away from the main reasons why I loved this book.

      I think Simon is a great character and that his story is just as compelling as Avicenna’s. I thought the [spoiler-filled things] that happened to him were heartbreaking and liked his friendship and eventual trust with Cenna.

  2. Rebecca

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this. It definitely make me more excited to get to my copy. I love a well-crafted mystery and this sounds like it delivers. I’ve never read a book by Rebecca Lim (OzYA FTW), but have heard good things.

    Great review!

  3. Michelle

    Lovely review Shaheen! This was such a unique and unexpected novel. I never got around to reviewing this as I just couldn’t find the words to describe how beautiful it was, but you’ve done that perfectly!

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