Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.
When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka's ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She's found her final candidate.
But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn't have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan's kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul's worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.
As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.
TITLE: Light From Uncommon Stars
AUTHOR: Ryka Aoki
PUBLISHER: Tor Books
LENGTH: 384 pages
GENRE: Science Fiction
Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Main Character(s), Trans Main Character(s).
*I received a free review copy as part of voting for the 2022 Hugo Awards.
DNF 20% in.
The backstory involves a deal with hell and also aliens, then (at least in the first fifth of the book) it's a contemporary story about a trans kid who has run away from home, with hints of what feels like a slow burn sapphic romance. To me, it feels like the skipped the (extremely interesting) hell story, involves the most mundane bits possible on the alien story, and I'm not in the right headspace for a transphobia story. The combination as a whole doesn't fit what I want to read right now, so I stopped. I only tried reading it because of the Hugo nomination, since the description alone was enough to tell me this probably wasn't going to be a book I'd like.
Partial CW for sexual content, transphobia, homophobia, racism, emotional abuse (backstory), physical abuse (backstory), domestic abuse (backstory), panic attacks/disorders (brief), drug use, alcohol, excrement (brief), suicidal thoughts (brief).