ARC Book Review: Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood


ashley | Rust and Stardust by T. Greenwood has some big shoes to fill. According to the description, it’s “based on the experiences of real-life kidnapping victim Sally Horner”, a case which “inspired Vladimir Nabokov to write his controversial and iconic Lolita”. I went into this with soaring expectations and this book flew up to meet me them all.

Usually knowing something is based on a true story makes me like a book more, but this was just so much harder to read knowing that this actually happened to a little girl. Not even halfway through the book I was already so heartbroken and disgusted. Part of me wasn’t sure if I could read further, the other part had to push through and acknowledge this little girl’s tragic story, a story I hadn’t heard about before picking up the book. Needless to say, this required a lot of mental health breaks.

The only word I can think of to describe this is heartbreaking – for everyone involved. The horrors and trauma and abuse that Sally Horner went through is sickening, but the guilt and responsibility and fear and blame and shame that all the other people involved, and other people who Sally and her kidnapper came across, is also heartbreaking. And it’s so hard to read about how close Sally was to being saved a few times, how so many people had an opportunity to do something and didn’t, or didn’t even know something had to be done. Just heartbreaking.

I really enjoyed this story, but that is what it is; a story. There are fabricated characters and creatively licensed events to fill in the gaps of the factual timeline. This isn’t a true crime novel and never claims to be, but it does make me wonder whether I would have preferred reading something I knew was entirely true, or if the added flourishes and people and imagined circumstances round out this awful story enough to give the full idea without the sharp edges that I know would cut even deeper than this did.

Greenwood showed a lot of empathy and class when writing this. She gave Sally justice by including the horrible things, but didn’t glorify the opportunity by giving endless details about the abuse and trauma. I thought everything was handled delicately and I did enjoy seeing the other sides of the story, the other characters that were brought into it, whether their reactions were based on fact or not. Like I said, this was a heartbreaking read and my heart aches for this poor family.


more information
amazongoodreads website

august 7, 2018

copy provided for honest review by
Net Galley