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A Wilderness of Stars

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About The Book

Deluxe edition with special embellishments on first printing only!

In this “slow-burning, atmospheric romance” (Publishers Weekly) from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Long Live the Pumpkin Queen, an illness cursing the land forces a teen girl astronomer to venture across the wilderness in search of the stars’ message that will, hopefully, save them all.

When all is lost, look to the stars.

Vega has lived in the valley her whole life—forbidden by her mother to leave the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the wilds beyond. But when Vega sees an omen in the sky—one she cannot ignore—she is forced to leave the protective boundaries of the valley for the first time. Yet the outside world is much more terrifying than Vega could have ever imagined. People are gravely sick—they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose their lives.

But Vega has a secret: she is the Last Astronomer—a title carried from generation to generation—and she is the only one who understands the knowledge of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to a cure. So when locals spot the tattoo on Vega’s neck in the shape of a constellation—the mark of an astronomer—chaos erupts. Fearing for her life, Vega is rescued by a girl named Cricket who leads her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos.

On the run from the men hunting her, Vega sets out across the plains with Cricket and Noah, in search of a fabled cure kept secret by the astronomers. But as the line between friends and protectors begins to blur, Vega must decide whether to safeguard the sacred knowledge of the astronomers…or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.


Chapter One

ORION, Gamma Ori +06° 20’ 58”

A hundred years ago, the first Astronomer looked up at the night sky and made note of what she saw: horseshoe nebulas and spiral galaxies and dying star clusters. But she did not yet know what lay hidden in the shadowy darkness between stars. She was not a seer, a fortune-teller, as was common in the old world but rarely talked about now. Instead she used the circular glass rings of her telescope to make sense of the dark; she used physics and chemistry and science. She drafted charts and measured distances and sketched formations like Pleiades and Andromeda onto wax paper.

Maybe if she had believed in fate. If she had listened to her gut—that hollow twisting beneath her lowest ribs—she might have feared what she didn’t understand.

She might have known that the shadow concealed more than dust and particles of broken moons.

She would have looked closer.

And seen.

About The Author

Photograph by Sky Pinnick

Shea Ernshaw is the author of A History of Wild Places, the New York Times bestseller The Wicked Deep, Winterwood, and A Wilderness of Stars. She is the winner of the 2019 Oregon Book Award. She lives in a small mountain town in Oregon and is happiest when lost in a good book, lost in the woods, or writing her next novel.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (November 29, 2022)
  • Length: 400 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665900249
  • Ages: 14 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

"Ernshaw wastes no time drawing readers into the story and creating tension as the plot thickens. With an ominous tone throughout as the characters meet outlaws, scavengers, and theorists, the story moves at breakneck speed. Readers will not leave this one on the shelves...[a] A great addition to any YA collection and for readers who enjoy wondering about the night sky."

– School Library Journal, starred review

"A Wilderness of Stars is an atmospheric adventure romance that pulls from a constellation of genres as author Shea Ernshaw crafts a world that seems both familiar and alien...[that] will delight readers who love soft science fiction, measured reveals and romances that are written in the stars."

– BookPage

"Mystery and romance unfurl at an unhurried clip, and Vega’s absorbing first-person narration lends immediacy to this existential tale, which evokes an old western feel and hints at a larger potential world."

– Publishers Weekly

Awards and Honors

  • Oregon Spirit Award

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More books from this author: Shea Ernshaw