Jo Fletcher Books | 2022 (31 March) | 352p | Review copy | Buy the book
In the troubled Cold War years of the 1970s, the world still reels from the events of Meteor Day when humanity learned that it wasn’t alone in the universe. A young alien child, Cory, landed alone on Earth and was adopted by Molly and Gene, who were prepared to risk everything to save and comfort this frightened, strange, wonderful child. But not only that, humans learned that there is another species, deadly, mechanical, snakelike, that destroys all life before it, that is already making incursions into the solar system. Now people look to the stars and hope for Cory’s people to arrive because this is not an enemy that can be fought without help.
Meanwhile, Cory continues to learn about life on this, his other world, while missing his home terribly, seeking to connect across the stars in his dreams. But Cory is a much loved child, not to mention a celebrity, and the subject of endless speculation, wonder and even fear. Molly’s concerns are much more practical – to keep her family together, to keep Cory as content as possible, and survive whatever will come.
Our Child of the Stars is one of my favourite books of all time. I love science fiction and especially tales of first contact, but there is so much more to this story than that. That’s partly because of Cory, who has to be one of the most adorable, sad, loving and curious figures that I’ve come across. But it’s also because of the setting in this small part of America in a reimagined and struggling 1970s. Molly and Gene are a wonderful couple. It’s so good to see them all again in Our Child of Two Worlds, set a little bit after the previous novel, with Cory’s identity now revealed and his powers emerging.
Despite the love that surrounds him, Cory is lonelier than ever, particularly as he’s aware that people fear him. But he loves to play with his powers and it’s a pleasure to read about the games he plays. Until the worry grabs him again. He’s been traumatised by the events of Meteor Day. He knows better than anyone how terrifying the Snakes can be. And he misses his family.
In Our Child of Two Worlds, we learn more about Cory’s people, how they communicate and how they love as families and explorers, as well as their mission. I loved the time spent on interstellar spaceships, the hope that not all aliens are out to destroy the world. But the fear of the Snakes is genuine and well-founded.
There are smaller concerns, equally important in many ways. The prospect of the arrival of Cory’s people means the chance of a life in the stars for Gene. Molly is more rooted in the family home. They are a loving couple but there is a shadow creeping in from the corners.
Stephen Cox writes beautifully and fills his characters with warmth and self-questioning. I love the incidental characters who debate whether Cory is a hoax. There’s the drama surrounding Molly’s family. There are tensions that play out on an intimate scale against the massive context of aliens, space travel, the potential end of the world. It works brilliantly.
There is also considerable excitement and tension as the realisation grows that the world truly is in danger. It’s a fantastic story, told so well. Do read Our Child of the Stars first. You need to do that and then Our Child of Two Worlds will be irresistible reading. How I adore Cory, the boy who loved by two worlds!
Our Child of the Stars