Title: Starry Nights
Author: Daisy Whitney (website)
Pub. Date: September 3, 2013
Source: ARC via Around the World ARC Tours
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.
The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can’t help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world’s greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they’ve ever known.
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Julien Garnier is like any other seventeen-year-old boy: he doesn’t take his studies as seriously as he should, he’s moving on after a disastrous relationship, and he works as a tour guide at the Musée d’Orsay. What isn’t typical about Julien, however, is that he has after-hours access to some of the world’s most valuable paintings. His mother is the museum’s curator and the art world is abuzz with excitement as the news spreads of the discovery of a lost Renoir. After authentication, the painting will find a permanent home at the museum.
One night while Julien is making the rounds in the now-empty galleries, he notices something isn’t quite right with the paintings. First it was some sun damage, then a peach rolled out of a frame. Seascapes begin leaking onto the floor and Degas’ dancers start, well, dancing and putting on impromptu performances for Julien.
Worst of all, the girl in the Renoir made a brief appearance and now Julien can’t stop thinking about her.
Starry Nights brought me back to the art world. Last year I read and loved B.A. Shapiro’s The Art Forger. Shapiro took a subject I knew practically nothing about and made it extremely accessible. Not once did I get lost in the paintings, artists, or techniques. I was eager to return to that magical world and Starry Nights didn’t disappoint!
Male POVs are relatively rare in Young Adult and it was a joy to get inside Julien’s head. His friends – Simon, Sophie, Bonheur, Emilie, Zola – were wonderfully written too and even the minor characters were fleshed out. That said, the real star of the show was Clio. For over a century she’s been trapped inside the cursed painting and only now has been set free. Her story and magical and enchanting and when her true identity was revealed, I was caught off guard.
I’m sure those more knowledgeable than me would enjoy the talk of specific paintings without the added distraction of having to rush off and Google them. That said, the fantasy element was so incredibly well done! Who hasn’t looked at a painting and wanted to explore it a bit more? To be able to speak with the subjects, sail on the rivers, or watch the dancers perform is something I’d love to do and the way Ms. Whitney went about it worked.
The ending was a bit rushed and too Happily Ever After for me, but Starry Nights was a delightfully inventive story that can easily be read in a single sitting. This is my first of Whitney’s novels, but it left me itching for more!