Monday 14 November 2016

Book Review - Christmas Under The Stars by Karen Swan - Rachel Reads Randomly Book #46

Amazon UK
Title: Christmas Under The Stars
Author: Karen Swan
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Publication Date: 3rd November 2016
Rating: 5 Stars

Worlds apart. A love without limit.

In the snow-topped mountains of the Canadian Rockies, Meg and Mitch are living their dream. Just weeks away from their wedding, they work and play with Tuck and Lucy, their closest and oldest friends. Meg and Lucy are as close as sisters - much to Meg's sister's dismay - and Tuck and Mitch have successfully turned their passion for snowboarding into a booming business.

But when a polar storm hits, tragedy strikes. Alone in the tiny mountain log cabin she shares with Mitch, Meg desperately tries to radio for help - and it comes from the most unexpected quarter, a lone voice across the airwaves that sees what she cannot.

As the snow melts and they try to live with their loss, the friendship Meg thought was forever is buckled by tensions, rivalries and devastating secrets. Nothing is as she thought and only her radio contact understands what it is to be truly alone. As they share confidences in the dark, witnessed only by the stars, Meg feels her future begin to pull away from her past and is forced to consider a strange truth - is it her friends who are the strangers? And a stranger who really knows her best?

Like a fine wine, Karen Swan books get better with age. With that I mean I loved her first few books, but recently it seems like every new book, as she progresses with her career is becoming just more and more impressive, and in this case has a pretty unique set of circumstance in the story too. 

In a roundabout way I think I'm trying to say that Christmas Under the Stars is simply amazing,  from its very clever in retrospect title, the absolutely gorgeous cover that I could sit and stare at for hours, to the setting in the Canadian Rockies, and the set of characters and what they go through, in a year. 

My absolutely favourite strand to the book is the one I feel I can't properly mention in a review because it is probably more special to come across it yourself. Suffice to say there is a character that is unlike anyone I've really seen before in any book, and the location of his first interactions is rather special. 

Now onto things I can talk about, this is the story of four friends, Meg & Mitch, Lucy and Tuck, who all live in the Canadian Rockies. A week before Meg is due to marry Mitch he goes out on a rescue missing in desperately disastrous weather conditions and never makes it home. 

Meg, Lucy and Tuck all need to learn how to deal with the aftermath, and in particular in Meg's case she needs to slowly come to terms with everything and then see just what she wants from life in general. Lucy and Tuck however are facing their own crisis of marriage, and there are certainly elements of that storyline that I never saw coming. 

The scenery in this book is breathtakingly beautiful, but at the same time, it highlights just how harsh the winters are in the Canadian Rockies, in addition, to just what an array of wildlife they have up there, some more harmless than others. I do love the idea of an elk just wandering down Banff's main road after dark, but the grizzly bears on the other hand are completely different prospect.

I've even googled images of the area and it really is as stunning as the book makes out. In fact before I read this Canada wasn't a place I had ever really thought too much about, but I do think Christmas Under The Stars could do its part for Rockies tourism. There was even a  weekend in Toronto, so you got a good feel for a different part of the country too, with some of the major landmarks visited. 

There are some adrenalin inducing scenes, and I loved Tuck and Mitch's love of all things adventure sports, including their business. 

At a time where the remaining friends should be banding together and supporting one another gaps begin to show, and it makes the dynamics of the book so much more interesting.  

It took until about the fourth chapter for me to be hooked on this book, so about 30-40 pages in, at which point I re-read the prologue which suddenly made a bit more sense having more knowledge already of which character was which, and then I was lost to the world as I read this outstanding book. 

Thank you to everyone that voted for Christmas Under The Stars..although it has left me slightly confused as when I bought the book and foolishly put it on my spreadsheets I was going to take it on holiday with me, so need to rethink that plan a bit!

Please do take a look at this weeks book choices on the vote, it will be the last Rachel Reads Randomly vote of 2016, as after that I have too many things going on in real life and the blog to run the feature during December. Will definitely be back in January!


  1. This sounds a wonderful read! I thought I had enough Christmas books already but might just be tempted by this one.... Thanks Rachel.

  2. This sounds a wonderful read! I thought I had enough Christmas books already but might just be tempted by this one.... Thanks Rachel.


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