In her first novel, Pushcart nominee Zuluaga transports her readers to Fort Starlight, a Florida community founded on little more than hopes and promises. Ida Overdorff invested $1,000 in a plot of land near the budding city on a whim. Chronically poor, she’s delighted when local land developers contact her with an offer to more than double her investment. She spends the last of her savings getting to Florida to make good on the deal, but when she’s handed a rubber check and left to her own devices, she finds herself stranded with nothing to her name but a plot of land she’s never seen. She soon finds she’s not the only one in Fort Starlight waiting for fate to deal her a new hand. When a tropical storm abruptly brings Ida and her neighbors together, the many ways in which they can help each other are revealed. Zuluaga’s prose is delicate and artful, creating inviting depths from which each reader can draw his or her own meaning. --Amber Peckham
Sun-beaten stretches of wetlands, empty real estate dreams and a duplicitous developer bring together a mismatched cast of lost souls in Zuluaga's entertaining debut. "Fort Starlight" is a moving story of half-recovered dreams and reconfigurations of pseudo-families, but Zuluaga's prose is strongest when she writes about the intersections of nature and man in this strange pocket of Florida.
-New York Times Book Review, Dec. 2013
A moving story of half-recovered dreams and reconfigurations of pseudo-families.”
—S. Kirk Walsh, The New York Times Book Review
Zuluaga’s prose is delicate and artful, creating inviting depths from which each reader can draw his or her own meaning.”
—Amber Peckham, Booklist
"Zuluaga’s absorbing, expertly written debut explores the intersection of dreams and reality in the bizarre wilderness of Florida’s wetlands...Zuluaga’s portrayal of what happens to dreams deferred is beautifully executed." Publishers Weekly
"The great joy of reading this novel was to be steeped in place, its blackbirds and alligators, its grasslands and rivers, the storms which blew in with regularity, but also for its indelible cast of characters, misfits all, who I grew to love as they forged on with pioneer hope, sowed the grace of second chances, and displayed the generous care of family beyond blood. Claudia Zuluaga has written a powerful novel, rare in its elegance, and Fort Starlight introduces a wonderful new voice into the world of literature."
Alan Heathcock, author of Volt
Claudia Zuluaga knows the real Florida, that wild, un-Disneyfied place where people from all over have come to chase their dreams into tenuous subdivisions on lush and mucky land. In her stunning first novel, Zuluaga sets in motion a tense, multi-layered drama which plays out in the barely drained swamps, revealing a fragile and beautiful ecosystem of vivid, eccentric, and absolutely believable characters. Fort Starlight is a stunning explosion of a novel. I savored every word of it.”
Elizabeth Stuckey-French, author of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady
Claudia Zuluaga has created a heady, humid world that feels part tropical fairy tale and part economic cautionary tale. In her gifted hands, Florida's natural world feels as riveting as the hopeful but hard-pressed characters who populate its tenuous landscape. Fort Starlight is both beautiful and strange, a mesmerizing and singular novel.”
Michelle Wildgen, author of Bread and Butter and You're Not You
Claudia Zuluaga has given us a heart-felt page turner out of a parched housing development in South Florida. Reminiscent of Alice Hoffman’s Turtle Moon, Zuluaga manages to hold onto the drama and suspense of her story and, at the same time, shared with us her big, generous heart. We care for her characters and their crazy midsummer’s night dream the way she cares for them. This makes it all the more difficult to believe that this is the work of a debut novelist and not that of an old hand. In other words she knows how to spin a yarn and it was a pleasure to be caught up for a time in her web.”
Mary Morris, author of Revenge