- City of Islands by Kali Wallace
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-249981-3 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-249983-7 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-7
The Lady of the Tides, one of the City of Islands’ powerful mages, rewards those who bring her artifacts and treasures from the surrounding sea, and twelve-year-old Mara is certain her latest haul from diving will give her a chance at studying magic at the Citadel. Mara’s discovery of the bones of strange hybrid animals does indeed catch the Lady’s attention, but before she will grant Mara a place at the Citadel, she asks the girl to do the near impossible: sneak into the fortress Winter Blade, where the Lady believes the Lord of the Muck is using powerful bone magic, and determine what he is using that magic for. This is a setting rich in mythology and secrets, and Wallace deftly balances world building with a twisting, surprising plot; the particulars of the specific types of magic and the backstories that supposedly led to them are especially intriguing. Mara plays the everykid, relatable in her need for adult approval even as she rebels against certain rules, and readers will likely feel the sting of hurt right along with her when she discovers the betrayals by multiple supposedly trustworthy grownups. Audiences will therefore be happily satisfied when their heroine prevails in an ending that is pure wish fulfillment, with Mara taking a leading role in the city’s future after saving it from certain doom.