Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke is a cute, light-hearted romance about what could happen when you mess around with the stars. Justine (Sagittarius and skeptic) is a copy manager at the Alexandria Park Star, who runs into her childhood friend and longtime crush Nick (Aquarius and true believer) in the market and realizes this could be her second chance at love. Nick lives by his horoscope, and pays particularly close attention to the advice of Leo Thornbury, the Alexandria Park Star astrologer who always faxes his column in and never checks to see what actually makes it to print. So Justine figures it wouldn’t be a big deal to make a few tweaks to the Aquarius horoscope and convince Nick that she’s really his romantic destiny. Except horoscopes are open to interpretation, and the messages that Nick gets aren’t quite what Justine intends.
Minnie Darke’s author bio says that she “wrote this book to amuse herself and to entertain you,” and indeed this novel is just sheer fun from cover to cover. Darke takes a lighthearted, yet never disrespectful, approach to astrology. The novel shows us how we shape our own future happiness, yet also seriously ponders the question of whether our destiny has been predetermined after all, however winding and twisted the path it takes to get there.
Justine’s tampering with the horoscope leads to a comedy of errors, each misadventure funnier and more entertaining than the one before. Near the beginning of the novel, Nick is planning to give Justine a call when he reads the horoscope Justine wrote, which suggests he revisit his past. Justine meant it as a reference to the romantic evening they had as teenagers, but Nick sees it as a suggestion to give another ex-girlfriend a chance. As a reader, you cringe on Justine’s behalf, then eagerly anticipate all the potentially hilarious mishaps that could happen next. Through it all, the novel maintains a light tone and romantic comedy feel, keeping us reassured throughout that, regardless of all the many obstacles that’ll pop up, we’ll somehow still end up with a happy ending.
Justine and Nick are both quirky, interesting characters. Justine is a total grammar nerd who corrects restaurant menus and always crosses out the ‘d’ in the handwritten ‘Advocado’ sign at the market. Nick is an actor who lands a role as Romeo, and is struggling with the decision of whether he should take a more practical approach to his career. I like how well-suited they are for each other, and how good they are as friends beyond the romantic attraction.
I also like how the story touches on other Aquarians who read Justine’s horoscopes and have their lives altered as well. Many of these characters end up playing a role in each others’ stories, further emphasizing the sense that lives are interconnected and quite possibly directed by the movement of the stars. A romantic subplot involving 12 boxes of Prince Charles and Princess Diana wedding china is absolutely adorable and in some ways even more captivating than the main romance. And a subplot involving a one-eyed terrier is utterly heartwarming, and makes you just fall in love with him.
Overall, Star-Crossed is a fantastic summer read, a quick and fun romantic comedy that will make you curious about what your own horoscope holds.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.