Thank you NetGalley and Tor Teen for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
SYNOPSIS: 1938. The Golden Age of Hollywood. Palm trees and movie stars. Film studios pumping out musicals and gangster films at a furious pace. Everyone wants to be a star―except society girl and aspiring astronomer Kate Hildebrand. She’s already famous after a childhood tragedy turned her into a newspaper headline. What she craves now is stability.
But when Kate has to move to Hollywood to live with her washed-up silent film star grandfather, she walks into a murder scene and finds herself on the front page again. She suspects one of the young men boarding in her grandfather’s run-down mansion is the killer―or maybe even her grandfather.
Now, Kate must discover the killer while working on the set of a musical―and falling in love. Will her stars align so she can catch the murderer and live the dream in Old Hollywood? Or will she find that she’s just chasing starlight? (AMAZON)
For fans of classical Hollywood cinema, Chasing Starlight will be a fun ride. While it took me a few chapters to get lost into the story, as soon as it picked up I found the tone of it incredibly reminiscent of the same feeling I get whenever I see a film from the 30s or 40s. It was delightfully authentic.
The plot, centered around the death of one of lead Kate's grandfather's house boarders, takes us through the story from one exciting event to the next without much of a break. As the novel progresses, and despite the constant action, the author takes advantage of moments between the characters to not just connect but to grow into themselves and outwardly alongside others. The friendships and bonds between Kate, Ollie and Hugo are especially pronounced. And the romance between the latter and Kate is sweet, with enough of a discreet spark to belong in the big screen during the Golden Age of films.
Kate herself, as the character driving the plot, is fairly easy to get to know and connect with. While her back and forth belief/disbelief/accusations of Hugo as the killer and antagonist in the story comes across as rash, it's not difficult to understand why she has such a tough time believing in others given her traumatic past. Nonetheless, she's fierce in her attempts to protect and help others, and seeing her save the day was rather satisfying alongside her grandfather—Ollie's—help. Ollie himself is a dear, and one of the most precious grandpas that I've had the opportunity to read in a tale with his own struggles to face.
Every character in this story has something that they're dealing with, whether physically or emotionally, and none do so easily. They're all a believable cast, helping the reader become further immersed. And borrowing from historical facts from the day, the author makes mention of not just movies that threw Hollywood into stronger popularity with the masses, but she also touches on political points, gender equality/inequality and racial beliefs that were as unpleasant as they were (sadly) factual back in the day.
While I figured out who the culprit truly was fairly soon after Kate finds the dead body in Ollie's kitchen, it was still an entertaining trail to follow. Teri Bailey Black keeps you on the edge of your seat and pulls you in faster and faster as the race reaches the finish line during the last few chapters. Chasing Starlight is a feel good cozy mystery with enough heart to become a choice read.