Publisher: Chicken House Books
Genre: Fantasy, MG/YA, Adventure
Source: a copy in exchange for an honest review
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Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.
When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.
But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.
The Girl of Ink and Stars is an adventure story about a young girl named Isabella who goes on a rescue mission in an attempt to rescue her best friend, Lupe – who’s also the Governor’s daughter. She lives on an Island in which the same Governor had banned anyone from venturing out into the Forgotten Territories and as a cartographer’s daughter, she has this fascination with finding out what lies beyond and I think this also somewhat fuels her determination.
I’d been planning on getting my hands on this book for a while, and when I managed to get a review copy I was ecstatic. (Though I’ll definitely be picking up a finished copy soon enough). I usually never start off a review with the appearance of a book, but the detail in this book is absolutely breathtaking and definitely one of the best I’ve ever seen.
This book is magical both inside and out. Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s writing is beautiful and has an almost melodic or lyrical tone to it. Isabella is one of the best protagonists I’ve read about in a while, she’s brave and intelligent and I loved that she was a dreamer, one of the only ones who was willing to wonder about what lay beyond the wall and accepted the myths her father told her about wholeheartedly – which actually helped her out in the end.
Though this book is aimed at younger readers, which comes through in the writing a little in terms of Isabella’s perspective, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and I think readers of all ages would. I have to say, this book doesn’t hold back. Kiran Millwood Hargrave doesn’t sugar-coat the adventure, making it an exciting and emotional read and there were definitely a few tears throughout. This is one of the many things I adored about this book as there are cases where authors tend to sugar-coat or be more cautious with stories aimed at younger readers. I wish Girl of Ink and Stars was available when I was younger.
The story is just over 200 pages long and since most of my recent reads have been double or even triple that amount, I was surprised at how much action and adventure was packed into this quick read. I read during revision breaks, and spent most of my revision time thinking about Isabella and Lupe and their adventure. I’ve always been intrigued by stars and astronomy though I know next to nothing about any of it, and the astronomical aspects of this story were fascinating to read about especially since there were little facts scattered here and there as Isabella guided the search party.
No wonder it was named Waterstone’s Children Book of the Month for May, it’s absolutely glorious and well-deserved. The Girl of Ink and Stars is an exciting adventure full of friendship, bravery, magic and wonder. I wish it wasn’t a standalone, though I was more than content with the ending, I would love to read more about Joya and I can’t wait to read more of Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s work!
Favourite quote: Any man can draw where he’s been – Only a cartographer knows how to draw it to fit with where he’s about to be.