Book Review: The Star-spun Web – Sinéad O’Hart

Title: The Star-spun Web
Author: Sinéad O’Hart
Publisher: Stripes (Little Tiger)
Publication date: 7th February 2019


With her passion for scientific experimentation and her pet tarantula Violet, Tess de Sousa is no ordinary orphan. When a stranger shows up at Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings, claiming to be a distant relative come to adopt her, Tess hopes to find some answers to her mysterious origins.

But as she adjusts to her new life at Roedeer Lodge, it becomes clear that Norton F. Cleat knows more about Tess – and the strange device left with her when she was abandoned as a baby – than he’s letting on.

And when Tess discovers that the Starspinner is the gateway between her world and a parallel world in which war rages, she realizes she may be the key to a terrible plan.

A plan she must stop at all costs…

Taken from The Star-SPUN WEB


Meet Tess de Sousa. She lives in Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings, has a pet tarantula called Violet, and is a budding scientist. Not only that, but Tess wears glasses.

As an odd start to a review as that may seem, when I started reading The Star-spun Web, I was ecstatic to see a young, female protagonist wearing glasses and she has to clean them from time to time. As someone who wears glasses and knows the pain of constantly searching for something to clean them with (where DO those smudges come from?!) and I felt an affinity with Tess immediately.

Anyway, now I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get onto the rest of the book. I can sit here and talk about how great the plot is (which it is) and how well written it is (which it is) and the fact the characters are so well developed (which they are) but I want to talk about something far, far more important.

O’Hart’s book is like a breath of fresh air. I can’t think of an adult book I’ve read that explores the multiverse theory, nevermind a children’s book! The storyline explains how Tess possesses a Starspinner, a device which allows her to move from one universe to another. Although this element of the book is clearly fantastical, it does also introduce the reader to the multiverse theory and accurately reflects the idea that the universes occur simultaneously.

Tess loves science and conducting experiments. In itself, seeing a young female exploring science is wonderful, but there is something far more meaningful at play in this book. Tess is supported. She is given a lab (however crude) and her teachers give her space and time she needs to develop her skills. Her friends support her. She is not mocked or bullied for her passion.

I cannot stress enough how valuable this is for encouraging young women into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects. Books like this help to normalise women in science, which is desperately needed.

If you have a child (any child, not just a girl!) who is between 8 and 12 years old, encourage them to read this book. Not only is it a wonderful adventure, full of mystery, intrigue, and peril, but delivers some important messages.

I, for one, cannot wait to find out what adventures Tess goes on next.

Many thanks to Stripes for providing a copy of this book for an exchange for an honest review.

About the author

Sinéad O’Hart is author of The Star-spun Web and The Eye of the North. You can find her over on Twitter.

Get your copy

The Star-spun Web is out on 7th February 2019. Get your copy here. Don’t forget to support your local indie bookshops.

Comment below

Have you read The Star-spun Web? Comment below, and don’t forget, links to other blogs are welcome here!


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