Ian Graham & Marc A. Hutchin’s Stellar #2 – Indie Book Spotlight

Hey, Readers! How’s this brand new year treating you so far? (Haha, just kidding – it’s March! We’re almost a quarter of the way done with 2023 already!) Ready to get involved in more superhero hijinks? Then look no further! This month we’re headed back to PSD (Port Saint Dominic) to catch up with a masked vigilante we know as Stellar.

I had a great time with the first issue, so was excited to get into this one as well! Of course, having said that, there will be spoilers for the first book in the series within this Spotlight. It’s unavoidable when looking at a sequel, after all! I recommended the first book and still do, so, feel free to check out my initial Spotlight before reading this or the sequel. These things are numbered for a reason, right? (Also, Stellar #1 was the Spotlight for March last year, too! I absolutely didn’t plan to do them a year apart but it’s funny how this stuff works out sometimes.)

Grab up a favorite beverage and hunker down – we’ve got a case to crack!

Book Stats

Basic Premise

Macy Davis is an all-round regular teen girl. She has a best friend, deals with high school bullies, has a least-favorite teacher (Affectionately known as The Spade.) has a crush on a cute boy and beats up mobsters down by the docks. Y’know. High school stuff.

That’s right: Macy Davis is Stellar, Port Saint Dominic’s very own superhero! Well, one of two. Part of the reason she’s been spending so much time fighting crime lately is to try and lure Luminesa out of hiding. Luminesa was at one time the big dang hero around these parts, after all and Luminesa herself stepped in to help Stellar in her dealings with the villain known as The Alderwoman.

This time, Stellar is primarily focused on the Carbonelli crime family and their new pastime – human trafficking! She’s freeing folks from shipping containers on the regular and putting a substantial divet in whatever the medical budget for this syndicate amounts to. Luminesa is nowhere to be seen… but she DOES grab the attention of someone else. Several someone elses.

No, not the Justice League. Or the Avengers. Nope… it’s the Ragamuffins! A small group of orphaned children who live underneath the city. (No, they aren’t turtles.) (That would have been awesome, though.) And they send her a very clear message : We know who you are, and if you don’t want everyone else to know? You’ll meet with us.

As it turns out, the Ragamuffins and their mysterious benefactor (The Librarian) may have information on Luminesa that could help Stellar locate her. As such, Stellar starts an initially uneasy alliance with these troublesome tweens. And she’s going to need all the help she can get because it seems that the Alderwoman may just be making her way back onto the scene…

Can Stellar and her new pals fix this sticky situation? You’re going to need to read it to find out!

My Take

I really loved the first Stellar book and had pretty high hopes for this one. As it happens, the story is really good!

Permit me a slight detour: I’m always kind of put off by the addition of children to any story where they aren’t the immediate focus. I’m not talking about The Goonies, Orphan Annie, The Lion King etc where the kids are the point. Most children’s movies escape this critique because, again, the kids are the central focus. But kids put into stories featuring teens and older characters as the focus? My thoughts on this are that most authors aren’t going to follow through on any real peril the kid may find themselves in so the stakes for them are very low. (Heck, even Stephen King admits that he wishes he hadn’t killed the kid in Cujo. Stephen King regrets killing Tad. Can you even imagine?) This breaks my immersion somewhat. If there’s a cute little kid in the cast, things are probably going to turn out just fine. The other thing is that they generally get annoying fast and add little to the story beyond raising the stakes for whatever adults are present (See my first point in regards to how that generally works out.) So, when the Ragamuffins showed up, I kind of sighed. Kiwi Graham Cracker, Good Idea and Watermelon (These are their names.) initially made me wonder if this was going downhill and fast.

Thankfully… my worries were proved groundless fairly quickly. I wouldn’t say I love the kids, but they are at least integral to the plot beyond being a MacGuffin that needs saving every two pages. They’re actually pretty funny characters too, giving a few genuine chuckles and smiles throughout. They broaden the world of Port Saint Dominic by adding some new lore as well. So, if you, like I, was worried about their introduction? Don’t be.

All in all, the superhero action in #2 is just as good as the first. Some nice high-stakes escapes, well written fight scenes and classic hero scenarios for Stellar to make her way through make this an exciting read! Stellar herself is just as good a character as she was in her first outing; she does her absolute level best to do the right thing in each scenario, even when that course of action is going to cost her. She goes out of her way to help people and that’s the kind of hero I’ve always loved.

Narration by Gabrielle De Cuir is fantastic, just as it was in #1. She’s great at differentiating the voices of each character and keeps things flowing nicely.

All in all, if you’re looking for a new capes and cowls story to tide you over till the next big blockbuster? Stellar is my pick!

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