The Astrologer’s Daughter makes you care about the protagonist from the get go. Avicenna Crowe is a teenager who has seen her fair share of tragedy. The book opens with her mother, Joanne, missing. Joanne is an astrologer who takes great pride on her work and who is very much sought after by clients because she is always dead right with her predictions.
When she goes missing, Avicenna helps the police find her by tracing her mother’s whereabouts herself. Following her mother’s trail leads her to a cold-case murder that she ends up trying to untangle, whether she likes it or not.
Avicenna has no choice but to embrace the skills she inherited from her mother – the gift of reading the stars. By knowing the day, time and place of someone’s birth, Avicenna is able to tell the person’s past, present and future.
The book lives between the worlds of realism and mysticism, giving it a different spin from other books in this genre. It’s an intriguing concept because, let’s face it, who hasn’t read a horoscope or seen a palm reader or two in their lifetime?
Avicenna is a reluctant hero paired with an even more reluctant part-time sidekick, Simon. All she wants to do is excel at school to take home that scholarship money and improve her impoverished life a tiny bit. But her mother’s disappearance changes all that.
Even though you don’t know much about Avicenna at the start, you are immediately drawn into the character. You can tell that she is a strong, determined, clever girl who loses her compass when her mother disappears. Avicenna’s ties to Joanne are so wonderfully depicted that you can’t help but remember your own relationship with your mother.
The Astrologer’s Daughter also touches on the prevalence of racism for multicultural couples – in this case Caucasians and Chinese. Avicenna discovers the life her parents lived before she was born and how they endured to make it work. The book also shines a light on the reality of teen poverty in the modern urban world.
There are two men that linger around Avicenna in the book: Simon and Hugh. Simon is Avicenna’s academic nemesis. They are fierce rivals and hate each other’s guts equally. But Simon’s hatred comes from desperation to get the scholarship himself and his annoyance of never beating Avicenna at school.
Hugh, on the other hand, is a rich and flawlessly handsome heir who has a question about the past that he wants Avicenna to find out. Although Avicenna is drawn to Simon, she is totally smitten by the grandeur that is Hugh. Who wouldn’t be? He’s the type of guy who, although you find bratty, will totally win you over with a charming smile.
Overall, The Astrologer’s Daughter is a good mix of mysticism, reality, thriller and mystery. Rebecca Lim is a gifted writer and this book doesn’t disappoint (SPOILER ALERT: stop reading here if you don’t want to know how it ends!) – even with the sad ending. Although Avicenna never finds her mother in the end, there are glimpses of a possible reunion in the future. I think it is an appropriate ending to the book.