Review: Stella by Josh Dygert

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Josh Dygert's Stella was published in April 2020.

Josh Dygert

Josh Dygert’s short stories have appeared in a number of online magazines and anthologies, including in the #1 Amazon Bestselling Horror Anthology Secret Stairs. He is also the author of a middle-grade fantasy novel called The Story Traveler, which is available from Amazon. He studied English and Theater in college and now teaches middle school English.

Click here to visit author official website.

Stella by Josh Dygert
by Josh Dygert

Stella knew the names of the stars before she knew her alphabet. Although Stella's mother disappeared when she was too small to remember, she grows up happy beneath bright Indiana stars in the small town of Torrance with her father, her dog, and her best friend.

When a meteor lands in her father's cornfields, Stella and her father run after the fallen star. Stella watches as her father touches the star. The moment he does, he disappears in a flash of golden starlight. Stella never sees her father again.

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Josh Dygert's Stella took me by surprise, because it's an atmospheric, captivating and intriguingly suspenseful depiction of a young woman's life and fate in a small town. Stella is a bit different kind of a novella due to its fascinating blend of science fiction and fantasy elements.

This novella tells of a young woman called Stella who lives in a small town of Torrance, Indiana. When Stella was a baby, she mysteriously lost her mother due to a comet which landed near their farm. As she grows older, she experiences another loss, because her father disappears in a meteor shower and she sees what happens to him. After this incident, her neighbours - the O'Malleys - begin to look after her in and invite her to stay with them. She becomes terrified of the stars that she used to love and changes her name. She runs away to a big city where the night sky is hidden because of lights and pollution and where nobody knows her history with meteors. The past won't leave her alone and she discovers that she has to find the courage to go back home and face her stars, because it may be the only way to deal with the past.

I was utterly fascinated by this story. I can honestly say that this novella is a little gem that deserves to be read, because I was touched and captivated by what I read. I wholeheartedly recommend it to adults and young adults alike, because it'll fascinate both readerships.

The story is told from Stella's perspective. The first person narrative mode works perfectly, because the reader gets a glimpse inside Stella's mind and sees how she deals with everything that she has experienced and how she gradually finds the courage to face what she has been running away from since her father's unexplained disappearance. It was intriguing to read about how Stella is compelled to rewrite herself and changes her identity, because it is her way of dealing with what has happened.

What I like perhaps most about this story is the author's ability to write effortlessly about Stella's life and his skillful way of bringing emotional depth to the story. I was impressed by how well the author wrote about what happens to Stella and how she copes with the changes in her life. I was also impressed by how well he described life in a small town where neighbours help each other in the time of crisis.

The relationship between Stella and her best friend, Bobby, is handled well. It's easy to imagine that both of them could be real persons who have grown up together, because their friendship feels real. The author also writes fluently about what kind of a relationship Stella has with her father, because he has lost wife and has had to bring up his daughter alone.

My final words are:

Josh Dygert's Stella is an excellent and well written novella, which is worth reading. I was captivated by the story and found it fascinating, because it's something different.