The Rise and Fall of Ava Arcana by Jennifer Banash #AmazonFirstReads #BookReview #April2023Books

An electrifying novel about a woman in thrall to the exhilarating rhythms of Manhattan, lost in the dizzying promise of youth, and fatally naive to the dark pressures of fame.

When Rolling Stone journalist Kayla McCray is assigned a cover story on pop icon Lexi Mayhem, Kayla stumbles across a startling new angle to the exposé. Years ago, another rising star from Lexi’s past mysteriously leaped to her death. Some things are better off forgotten, Lexi says. Kayla disagrees.

It’s 2005 and Ava Petrova moves to New York with a notebook full of songs and a dream. Then she meets Lexi, an up-and-coming singer who brands Ava with an enigmatic new stage name and introduces her to an intoxicating city alive with possibilities. From fast friends and kindred spirits to creative muses and inseparable soul mates, Ava and Lexi embark on a parallel journey to stardom, but there is room for only one at the top.

As past and present converge, Kayla chases the ghost of a young woman doomed by betrayal and erased by a secret, and unravels the truth that it takes more than ambition to become a star.

The Rise and Fall of Ava Arcana (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (Audible) (AbeBooks Used Books)

The Rise and Fall of Ava Arcana is another Amazon First Reads selection for the month of March. Prime members could get this book for free one month before its April release. Most of the time the selections are big wins for me, exploring books I might not ever have tried. This wasn’t my first choice of book for the month, but I spent the few dollars on the Kindle book after hearing good things about the book.

I never get tired of dual timelines, and dual perspectives. In the most recent timeline, we meet Kayla, who has just landed a cover story for Rolling Stone magazine on Lexi Mayhem, a huge pop star. Kayla has followed Lexi’s career since she was playing bars in New York City more than a dozen years prior. She’s super excited to write about someone whose career she thinks she knows well and it’s a great opportunity for her career.

The other timeline involves Ava Arcana, a young lady trying to make it in the music industry, working at a cafe. That’s when she meets Lexi Mayhem and the two become thick as thieves. The two women are bound and determined to become rich and famous with their work.

In the modern timeline, we learn that Ava died 13 years ago, and the mystery of what really happened to her is what drives the story. The back-and-forth of the timelines is a slow burn, and the reader and Kayla suspect that Ava’s death by suicide is any such thing. There were some times when I didn’t think the backstory was well fleshed out and left a few more unanswered questions than I would have liked, but overall the story was compelling and well worth the read.

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