Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund


October 19, 2013 by Alice in Readerland

AcrossaStarSweptSeaCenturies after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.

Persis Blake (also known as Persis Flake) seems as pretty, rich, and dumb as they come, playing with Slipstream her Sea Mink, and attending parties with her best friend Princess Isla. When caught in conversation about the spy, the Wild Poppy, liberating Galatean aristocrats, Persis merely requests that the Wild Poppy rescue dressmakers so that she can continue to have pretty outfits. But what no one on the island realizes is that “Persis Flake” is just one of many of Persis’ covers, as she’s also the Wild Poppy and that her Sea Mink knows much more tricks that have to do with spying.

Did I like this book? Um, no. Did I love this book? Let me give you a hint: Previously, I have only ever given two books I’ve reviewed on my blog 5 whole tea cup rating (those other books were Cinder and A Long, Long Sleep in case you were curious). Well, ladies and gentlemen, there’s about to be a third addition to that very small 5 teacup group of mine. That’s how much I loved Across a Star Swept Sea. (Curiously enough, all 3 of the 5 teacup books on here are retellings with futuristic elements, guess I have a thing for those types of stories.)

So what exactly did I love? Let’s just go over a few things before this review gets way too long:

The Setting and Writing Style

Albion is basically a futuristic Hawaii, which would be pretty enough by itself, but sounds almost magical thanks to Diana Peterfreund’s amazing writing and attention to detail. The descriptions of the lush grounds, the opulent palace complete with a water organ, and of course, the “star swept sea” are all beautifully and amazingly described in depth as if you were really there: Inside the book, on the enchanting island. Even the descriptions of Persis’ elaborate outfits are well described and beautiful.

The Technology

From flutternotes, different colorful flowers that serve as messages that you can send from your palmport that float through the air to Genetemps (the ultimate disguise), I loved hearing about all the technology in this book!

All the Characters

Obviously, my favorite character is the one and only lead of this story, the wickedly clever, wickedly cute Slipstream AKA Slippy AKA Sea Mink spy.

No, but really, I adored Slippy.

All the characters in this story were so thought out, from the love interest Justen, as he puts the puzzle pieces together about Persis, to Persis’ best friend Isla, who is dealing with feminism as she tries to establish her role as ruler. I also loved how all the side female characters weren’t cookie-cutter characters or shown in a lesser light to make the lead seem better, as I’ve seen in some books. Speaking of the lead, let’s talk about Persis:

I loved her. Really, really loved her. She’s strong and funny and brave and brilliant. It’s also so nice to finally see a strong female character who is girly and still kick-butt. There is nothing wrong with strong female characters who are tomboys, and I love them, but I also love having a variety of leads who know they can be clever and strong and kick-butt and also know that they can pull off all of the latest fashions. Persis loves her long hair and wears elaborate outfits, but she also has no qualms about disguising herself as a man to complete her mission. She can fight and spy and still make a mean, stylish hairdo. She can laugh and make jokes while dealing with troubles at home, and she can entertain everyone with Slipstream’s tricks while she’s plotting the Wild Poppy’s next move. She’s versatile, three-dimensional, and a fantastic character.

Cynical Cindy Says

Flaws? There were flaws in this book? Okay, let me see…There were reappearances of some characters from the author’s previous book, For Darkness Shows the Stars, and at times, I felt like there was more focus on these characters than was needed. But, I’m sure fans of For Darkness Shows the Stars will love that part. :)

I love the original story, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Across a Star-Swept Sea did it justice with little tributes to the original tale (the Daydream, anyone?) and adding amazing plot twists and creating brilliant new characters. Amazing and every bit as stunning as it’s cover, Across a Star Swept Sea is definitely a new favorite of mine!

5 Teacups

5 out of 5 teacups

Have you read Across a Star-Swept Sea yet?

I love comments

20 thoughts on “Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

  1. I just ordered both books in this series: FDSTS because I wanted to read Across a Star-Swept Sea because The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my favorite books! I can’t wait to get my hands on that Amazon box… *grabby fingers*

    I’m so glad to hear you loved it!

  2. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy says:

    I haven’t read For Darkness Shows the Stars, but when I heard this was a Scarlet Pimpernel retelling I knew I would have to read this one first – so I’m glad you loved it!! And that it’s a standalone story. It sounds so fun, and I think the author had a lot to work with from the original story – there’s so much humor, adventure, romance and danger in it. Great review!

    • I hope you love it too! I think it was a really terrific futuristic retelling, and you’re right, the original story had so many great elements and so much to offer! I’m also happy to see that this book is drawing out more Scarlet Pimpernel fans! :)

  3. Michelle says:

    Wow you read that quick!!! Sounds good, glad you loved it!

    • LOL, yeah, I was pretty excited about it after having to wait for it–I had gotten a bunch of stuff done the 2 days before I got it, so I pretty much just plopped down and read it when it came. :)

  4. Sunny says:

    *dances up and down in the chair* Woo! I’m thrilled that you loved it so much! I haven’t read it yet, but this makes me even more excited. The technology, the setting! Ah, both sound amazing as well as the awesome MC. Lovely review :)

  5. acps927 says:

    I’m really looking forward to reading this one! Glad to know you loved it so much! So how well acquainted do you think I need to be with The Scarlet Pimpernel beforehand? I actually don’t any of the story.

    • I actually don’t think you need to know the original to enjoy this one; it’s still really good on it’s own, but you might have fun checking out some comparisons after you read it if you want (maybe on Wikipedia or Sparknotes?). :) I hope you enjoy it!

  6. Annie says:

    I’m glad you loved this one! (I’m waiting on a sequel to A Long, Long Sleep because I liked it too!) This sounds great – beautiful setting, admirable main character, cool plot line. I keep meaning to read the first book but maybe I should skip straight to this companion novel – have you read the first book? :-) Cool review honey, love the images!

    • I’m so glad you like A Long, Long Sleep too, I’m so excited for the sequel! (I heard it will be published in the UK, so hopefully it will come to the US too.) I did get to read For Darkness Shows the Stars, but I didn’t like it as much as this one. Then again, this one was based off of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and I love that classic better than Persuasion, so if you’re a more of a Jane Austen fan, maybe you’d like For Darkness Shows the Stars better? :) You can also get two little ebook novellas that are sort of prequals to the two book.

      • Annie says:

        According to goodreads Anna lives in Oregon, so I wouldn’t question a US publication of the sequel. :-) I want to know more about Rose’s possible siblings, can’t wait! Can you believe Persuasion is the one Jane Austen novel I can’t bring myself to read? It’s just sounds too… Nitty gritty, dark, I guess. :-) That might be why I haven’t tackled Darkness yet to be honest. Maybe I’ll start with the prequel for this one instead, lol, because I’m a wimp?!

      • That’s good to know!!! :) I heard that (I think from the author?) since they were companion novels, you could read either one first. You do get to see some characters from For Darkness Shows the Stars in Across a Star-Swept Sea, so you’ll know what their very end outcome is. It didn’t bother me, but I just wanted to let you know in case you didn’t like any kind of spoilers. :)

      • Annie says:

        Thanks for that, I am pretty reluctant to open myself up to spoilers – especially because I know if I love Star-Swept I’ll want to read Darkness, erg! Lol. Guess I’ll just have to read Darkness first then. :-)

  7. Bella says:

    I have been a bit reluctant to pick these ones up, but you have me really intrigued! Lovely review! :)

  8. […] Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund […]

  9. […] 6. For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund (Across a Star-Swept Sea review) […]

  10. […] really love Across a Star-Swept Sea (a retelling of one of my favorite classics, The Scarlet Pimpernel) by Diane Peterfreund, but I […]

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