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Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-59514-858-2 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-101-99903-5 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8-12
When the conqueror Sikander the Great sets his sights on the idyllic kingdom of Shalingar, sixteen-year-old Princess Amrita’s world is shattered; her father was murdered in front of her, her kingdom overthrown, and her best friend and lover Arjun held hostage and forced to govern as Sikander’s satrap. Amrita flees with Thala, a young seer Sikander had held as a slave, who tells Amrita she can get her father and her kingdom back if they can find the mysterious Library of All Things, where each person’s life is recorded in a magical book. Find her father’s book, Thala claims, and Amrita can alter the past—as Thala seeks to alter her own, undoing her life of slavery. Narrated in Amrita’s clear, introspective voice, this is a story as much about choices as it is about fate; though she has a destiny, nothing about her story feels inevitable, giving urgency to her quest as she comes face to face with the deities she had never really believed in and seeks answers to questions about her parents’ shared history with Sikander and the mystery of her own identity. Amrita’s love for her home comes through in gorgeously evocative descriptions of Shalingar’s landscape, from the jasmine-scented air, mango groves, and fountains of the palace to the crowded streets of the capital city and even the maze of dark tunnels she and Thala must navigate to make their escape. The personal, political, and cosmic stakes of their journey come together in a final twist that’s as gripping as it is unexpected, facing Amrita with a choice unusual in a genre that typically emphasizes Western individualism and self-realization—and which will leave readers both breathless and thoughtful at its poignant conclusion.