Refugees from another solar system running a donut shop, a violin teacher who needs one last soul to harvest for hell, and a young trans runaway violinist are all magnificently blended together in Ryka Aoki's superb and heartwarming Light From Uncommon Stars. The descriptions of food and music are especially good, and you'll certainly be craving donuts before the book ends. Recommended By Mary Jo S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in Ryka Aoki's Light From Uncommon Stars, a defiantly joyful adventure set in California's San Gabriel Valley, with cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-made donuts.
Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.
When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka's ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She's found her final candidate.
But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn't have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan's kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul's worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.
As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.
“A singing, full-hearted, fearless — and fearlessly goofy — vision that dances across the border between real and surreal, heartrending and sweet, with the nonstop energy of Douglas Adams, and a deep, merciless compassion.” Max Gladstone
“A kaleidoscopic and riveting symphony... Aoki has conjured the most spellbinding venues to unpack race, sexuality, and class with both ingenuity and heart. A new classic.” Sequoia Nagamatsu
“Filled with mouthwatering descriptions of food and heart-swelling meditations on music, this novel is an unexpected gift.” Kirkus (Starred Review)
“A transformative marvel. I have never read a book quite like this before. I laughed. I wept. I believed in the power of souls. This is a novel that will be talked about for years to come, and deservedly so. I. Loved. This. Book.” TJ Klune
About the Author
Ryka Aoki (she/her) is a poet, composer, teacher, and novelist whose books include He Mele a Hilo and two Lambda Award finalists, Seasonal Velocities and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. Ryka’s work has appeared or been recognized in publications including Vogue, Elle, Bustle, Autostraddle, PopSugar, and Buzzfeed. Her poetry was featured at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and she was honored by the California State Senate for “extraordinary commitment to the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.”