Engine Books - September 2013
Publishers Weekly LOVES Fort Starlight!
Zuluaga’s absorbing, expertly written debut explores the intersection of dreams and reality in the bizarre wilderness of Florida’s wetlands. Ida Overdorff, 24, is just passing through the stalled development of Fort Starlight to sell a piece of land before moving to New York City to make it big as a professional baker. But when a corrupt developer takes off with her money, she has to contend with having her future placed on hold. Living in an abandoned and unfinished house, Ida encounters an equally adrift cast of characters: Peter, a rich man’s son escaping his legacy; Nancy, who has put off retirement to care for her terminally ill great-niece; Carter and Donnie, a pair of dirty and neglected children; and Ryan and Lloyd, a gay couple on the rocks who offer Ida real friendship. Ida struggles to recover from her mistakes, and while Fort Starlight doesn’t offer much besides swamps and alligators, it lends her newfound perspective and a lesson that blessings can come in unexpected places and people. This novel explores well-tread territory, but its unusual setting in a stillborn real-estate development sets it apart. Zuluaga’s portrayal of what happens to dreams deferred is beautifully executed. (Sept.)