ARC Review: Secrets Of the Starcrossed

I – wow

Name: The Once And Future Queen: Secrets Of the Starcrossed

Author: Clara O’Connor

Publish Date: 21st January 2021

It just happens to be published tomorrow! Not cutting this short at all 🙂


In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, two starcrossed lovers fight to ignite the spark of rebellion…

Londinium, the last stronghold of the Romans left in Britannia, remains in a delicate state of peace with the ancient kingdoms that surround it. As the only daughter of a powerful merchant, Cassandra is betrothed to Marcus, the most eligible bachelor in the city. But then she meets Devyn, the boy with the strange midnight eyes searching for a girl with magic in her blood. A boy who will make her believe in soulmates…

When a mysterious sickness starts to leech the life from citizens with Celtic power lying dormant in their veins, the imperial council sets their schemes in motion. And so Cassandra must make a choice: the Code or Chaos, science or sorcery, Marcus or Devyn?

Panem meets the Grishaverse in this explosive new YA trilogy perfect for readers of Marie Lu Bella Forrest, and Cassandra Clare.

Thanks to the publishers for an ARC copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review. And whilst I enjoyed some parts of the book, I think comparing it to The Hunger Games and the Grishaverse seems a few steps too far. More than a few.

I was first drawn to the book because of the fantasy world its set in – what would have happened if Rome never fell? It’s a brilliant premise and I enjoyed the blend of modern technology and state-controlled Roman life. However, most of how the reader discovers how the world works was through information dumps that read almost like a textbook. That’s often the easiest way to convey information to the reader, but they got a little tiresome. Sadly, there just wasn’t enough time spent on world building; so much of it was overshadowed by Cassandra’s love life.

Ahhhh, Cassandra. She might come across differently if you physically read the book (I don’t often do audiobooks), but Cassandra was irritating. Honestly, I think her perspective would have worked better in was in third person – because the author was really set on describing Cassandra in almost every scene. Describing your beauty in a really descriptive way is always going to come across as vain, slightly obnoxious, unlikeable. Other than that, as a heroine she felt flat; a little generic.

Also, I thought it was a Young Adult book! I can now confirm… it’s not quite (I was a little confused why the main characters were 21 and 26 if it’s targeted at teens). More similar Of Blood And Ash, if you get what I mean 😉 And whilst I have nothing against a bit of romance, the consent was a little hazy – and that’s something you need to be absolutely concrete on, especially in this day and age.

In a lot of sections, the plot was intriguing. I wanted to know where it was going, I was interested to know where it was going. There was a decent plot twist to the end of the book that almost made me want to find out what happens next (almost).

To sum up, Secrets Of The Starcrossed is an interesting blend of fantasy, historical fiction and romance. I ended up upping my rating because of the world and the plot intrigue and the history. Clara O’Conner has certainly done her research; although you might struggle to understand a few places and references if you’re not British. I won’t be reading the rest of the series but if you enjoy Secrets Of The Starcrossed, you’ll be glad to know that the next books are coming out in quick succession.

And the first book comes out tomorrow!

Published by Hundreds&Thousands

I’m a teenager (and a Hufflepuff) from Manchester. I like oversized jumpers, music that isn't on the radio anymore and books. Pretty much any book I can get my hands on but my favourites are Young Adult, fantasy and science fiction. One day, I decided to share some of my opinions on some great - and not so great - books to people around the world. And here it is! I really enjoy it and I hope you do too. The aim is hundreds and thousands of book reviews (see what I did there?) but I’m not quite up to that. Yet.

8 thoughts on “ARC Review: Secrets Of the Starcrossed

  1. Fab review! I also felt the same as you about the perspective, but I wasn’t sure if that’s because I’ve literally read SO MANY first person perspectives atm that I was bored of it and just wanted a third person instead 😂 I find it quite interesting to know that we both ended up increasing our star rating because of the world , I do think it has the ability to be so much more punchy in the second book.. but we shall see! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s an interesting point about perspective! I feel like romance books work better in first because it’s more informal (and gets a bit weird if someone else is describing it all haha) but then fantasy world building is easier in third… And the book was a pretty straight divide between romance and fantasy so it’s hard!! I can see the second book adding more world building, especially now the characters are concreted… but I have a feeling I won’t make it that far 😬


    1. Hi! That’s a good point…but even writing them as older felt like teens stuck in twenty-somethings bodies 😂 I was honestly so shocked when it said that she was 21! And Devyn was 26?! Bit questionable…


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