Author: Estella Mirai
Length: Novel (282 pages)
Publisher: Self-published (11 Dec 2019)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 3.5 Hearts
Blurb: Dreams don’t always look the way you expect them to.
Teru came to Tokyo with dreams of making it big in the glam-metal visual kei scene, but three years later, all he has to show for it is a head of hot pink hair and some skill with an eyeliner pencil. He may look the part, but he doesn’t sound it, and constant bickering among his bandmates has him worried about his future. When he finds a mysterious business card in his bag, he’s willing to take any help he can get.
Help comes in the form of Rei, a crippled, disfigured composer whose own career was ended by an accident before it had really begun. With Teru’s voice and looks, and Rei’s money and songwriting skills, both of their dreams seem about to come true – but a forbidden kiss and a late-night confession threaten to tear it all apart. Now Teru, who has spent most of his life denying his attraction to men, and Rei, who vowed long ago never to love again, must reconcile their feelings with their careers – and with their carefully constructed ideas of themselves.
THE STARS MAY RISE AND FALL is an M/M retelling of Phantom of the Opera, set in Tokyo at the turn of the millennium. It comes with a healthy dose of angst and a dollop of nostalgia, as well as an age-difference romance, a physically disabled love interest, and memorable characters who will stay with you long after the pages are closed.
Review: Estella Mirai is a totally new author to me, so I had no idea what to expect when I first got the book. However, I was intrigued. The whole idea of a struggling musician trying to reach for his dreams and the experienced mentor that helps him, it’s not an entirely unfamiliar trope and it is one that I’ve enjoyed in the past. The fact that it was set in Japan also intrigued, mostly because I have so many good memories of when I went to Tokyo, I felt a connection to the story when I know details the setting IRL. Add onto that this being an MM retelling of Phantom of the Opera, I was completely sold.
Set in Tokyo in 2000, the story follows, Teru who has dreams of making it big and making a successful career complete with adoring fans from his music. However, it feels like it’s never going to happen and he is ready to give up the glam and move on with life. But then Rei enters into his life. Rei is mysterious, although he is certain that Teru can make it big and is ready to do anything needed to make that a reality. Rei is also debilitated both physically and mentally by the scars that litter his body, causing him to wear a mask to hid the facial scars. They cause him endless physical pain as well as mental anguish at the thought of facing himself, let alone anyone else, with what he has become.
The journey is long and intense. Rei has the money and skills as a songwriter to help Teru realise his dreams, as well as show Teru that he has what it takes to also be a vocalist. But it isn’t all just business. Rei has had experience and knows what it is to hide his attractions to men. While Teru, practised in hiding himself as well, wants more from Rei as the two men spend more and more time together. Teru willingly becomes emotionally involved with his mentor, yet Rei is fighting his feelings the entire way.
The Stars May Rise and Fall is exactly how I thought it would be. A very enjoyable read with likable characters. The only reason that I haven’t given the book a higher rating was that unfortunately, I found it difficult to feel the connection and chemistry between Rei and Teru sometimes. Because of this I found it difficult to concentrate on the story and took away from my enjoyment.