The Lord of Stariel (Stariel #1) by A. J. Lancaster
Review,  Fantasy

The Lord of Stariel (Stariel #1) by A. J. Lancaster – cozy fantasy with family drama

The Lord of Stariel is interesting and fast-paced cozy fantasy with family drama and amazing setting and concept.

cozy fantasy with family drama

The Lord of Stariel (Stariel #1) by A.J. Lancaster

Publication Date : November 1, 2018

Publisher : Camberion Press

Read Date : May30, 2023

Genre : Fantasy

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Disclaimer – Many thanks to the author for digital review copies.
This post contains affiliate links.


The Lord of Stariel is dead. Long live the Lord of Stariel. Whoever that is.

Everyone knows who the magical estate will choose for its next ruler. Or do they?

Will it be the lord’s eldest son, who he despised?

His favourite nephew, with the strongest magical land-sense?

His scandalous daughter, who ran away from home years ago to study illusion?

Hetta knows it won’t be her, and she’s glad of it. Returning home for her father’s funeral, all Hetta has to do is survive the family drama and avoid entanglements with irritatingly attractive local men until the Choosing. Then she can leave.

But whoever Stariel chooses will have bigger problems than eccentric relatives to deal with. Winged, beautifully deadly problems. For the first time in centuries, the fae are returning to the Mortal Realm, and only the Lord of Stariel can keep the estate safe.

The Lord of Stariel is the first book in the Stariel quartet, a romantic cozy fantasy series about fae, magical estates, and complicated families.


fast-paced cozy fantasy with family drama

The Lord of Stariel is an interesting cozy fantasy that revolves around Hetta Valstar who returns home, Sterial Estate, for her father’s funeral and choosing ceremony for the next Lord of the estate. She never wanted to be the lord nor expected with her elder brother, whom her father didn’t like and her father’s favorite nephew whom everyone thought would be the next lord but when she was chosen as lord her life turns upside down.

She expected to return to her modern life as a master of illusion in Noth but now she is stuck with accounts of the estate, family drama, the mystery of who rigged the ceremony, and the even bigger problem of the fae returning to the Mortal Realm and only the Lord of Stariel can keep the estate safe.

This is more a mix of fantasy, romance and cozy mystery with themes and layers of feminism, secrets, family custom, and social norms. Writing is straightforward, perky, and cozy which sets the tone of the story that is told from Hetta’s perspective.

The setting and time period is the most interesting part and so is the concept of Stariel Estate as a magical land that is connected to the family of Valstar. The chosen Lord gets the strongest sense of the land and also enhances his/her magic. The Estate’s borders are the border between the mortal and fae realm that Lord of the Estate can oversee and control.

The mortal world is set in the Victorian/Edwardian era in which they have electricity and electric cars and trains but they all work with mage spell which is like elemental magic. Different mages have different powers and they have schools for them in the South. There is also fae magic which is more like we see fantasy with natural magic that doesn’t follow any rules. There is also differences within the mortal world between the conservative North where the Stariel Estate is and the liberal and modern South where Hetta was living for the past six years, first for the study of illusion and working in theater as a Master of Illusion.

We get most of the mortal world setting information in the first few chapters but we get the magic of the estate and how only Stariel has the magic and not its neighboring estate or village is more explained in the second half as the secrets are revealed and there are lots of secrets that most family members are keeping.

Family dynamic and drama is my favorite part. I enjoyed getting to know all Valstars along with Hetta. I had to make a list of them at first but once I was through the introduction part, I could easily tell who was who without getting confused.

Hetta is modern, smart, perky, independent, and a rebel in the family who was shunned by her father for choosing to leave the estate and to study illusion. Her feelings were realistic. It was sad to see how her family saw her as a disappointment for not acting and behaving like a lady and not approving or acknowledging her achievements and her mage powers. But not all her family was against it. Most of them were just surprised by her power and as the story progressed she could reconnect with not just Stariel land but also with her family and they all came around to accepting her as lord and also her power.

I liked Mauris and Hetta’s grandma. Her younger siblings were fun. I didn’t like Aunt Sybil and cousin Jack but by the end of the book I liked how they cared for their land and family. Even though they all had their differences, when there was an emergency and threat to family and estate they all formed a united front.

Romance is friends to lovers trope and we see the crackling spark between them but for most of the story, they kept dodging their emotions and each other as Wyn had a secret too. It was no surprise he was a fae and his position in the household also makes him hesitate to turn friendship into a relationship. It isn’t exactly forbidden but also doesn’t make it proper for the era of the setting. By the end of the book we finally had the anticipated kiss between Wyn and Hetta. I can’t wait to see what trouble their relationship and estate is going to face in the next books.

Why 3 stars-

All mysteries and twists and turns were predictable. It was easy to guess things way before they were revealed. Even the big reveal, in the end, wasn’t surprising. I felt it was hinted quite clearly throughout the book which made the climax and the big reveal rather uninteresting and also anticlimactic.

I also feel the love triangle was unnecessary as it was clear Hetta liked Wyn. It kind of took away moments between Hetta and Wyn.

There isn’t much character development as this is just the first book and I’m fine with it but at the same time, I didn’t feel much for any characters. I think I know them all on a surface level, I could understand them but there wasn’t much emotional depth.

Overall, The Lord of Stariel is interesting, dramatic, and fast-paced cozy fantasy with amazing setting and concept.

I recommend this if you like,
cozy fantasy
magical land
fae and mages
family drama
Victorian/Edwardian setting

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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