For all that he coined the phrase “star-crossed,” Shakespeare didn’t really show his work, astrologically speaking. Tasmanian author Danielle Wood—debuting as Minnie Darke—is here to fix that, and, luckily for her lovers, her novel is a comedy.
Nick (Aquarius) and Justine (Sagittarius), childhood friends and sharers of one electric teen make-out session, reconnect in the Alexandria Park neighborhood of Sydney, where Justine is an aspiring reporter and Nick an aspiring actor. Love is in the air, but because Nick is intimidated by Justine’s smarts and Justine is incapable of acting remotely interested, nothing happens. That is, until Justine is promoted to contributions manager of the glossy news magazine where she works and given access to the horoscopes; she thinks these prognostications are bunk but knows that Nick takes them seriously. What harm can come from her editing the memo to Aquarians in an attempt to drive Nick into her arms? And what harm can come from doing it again and again when her messages continue, painfully, to have the opposite of their intended effect? It’s dispiriting that the plot comes from a modern heroine making such incredibly dumb decisions, but impetuousness is, apparently, a Sagittarian trait. Adding a magical flair to the book are a bevy of subplots wherein seemingly random Aquarians (every character in the novel is announced with their sign and a handful of quirky personal trivia) read Justine’s fabricated horoscopes and are inspired to make sweeping life decisions. Where will it all lead? The author has a great deal of fun with words, circling themes (two different productions of Romeo and Juliet occur in the span of the book), and crafting an intricate, interlocking plot, but the cleverness can feel self-satisfied.
The stars foretell of happy endings.