Review of A Starlet’s Secret to a Sensational Afterlife

A Starlet’s Secret to a Sensational Afterlife A Starlet’s Secret to a Sensational Afterlife
by Kendall Kulper
High School    Holiday    352 pp.
5/23    9780823453610    $19.99
e-book ed.  9780823455331    $11.99

In 1934, eighteen-year-old aspiring Chicago actress Henny wins a ticket to Los Angeles and the promise of a screen test. Unfortunately, it turns out, there are men in Hollywood looking to take advantage of aspiring starlets. Henny encounters the ghosts of young women who were murdered in the business, whom only she can see, and she must team up with Declan—a stunt performer who seems immune to injury even in the most punishing situations—to seek justice. Their supernatural abilities are mere assets to their wit and determination as they navigate glitzy parties and the seamy underbelly of Los Angeles in a novel that will likely have greater appeal to historical fiction and mystery fans than to fantasy readers. The story, which unfolds in alternating first-person narrations, is tightly wound and truly stress-inducing in places, with emotional revelations that cause characters to doubt everything they thought they knew. The descriptions of 1930s movie sets and surrounding scenery are lush and convincing, with animated minor characters fleshing out a well-researched setting. The novel shares characters with Murder for the Modern Girl (rev. 7/22)—Henny is that book’s protagonist’s younger sister—and will likely entrance readers both familiar with and new to the world.

Pubissue-From the May/June 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Berman

Sarah Berman is a middle school special education assistant. She attended the University of St. Andrews, where she studied literature and wrote a dissertation about violence in children's fiction. 

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