- Nightingale by Deva Fagan
Trade ed. ISBN 9781534465787 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781534465770 $10.99
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 4-7
While stealing to pay rent, twelve-year-old orphan Lark ends up with a magical sword that claims her as the next Nightingale, a female hero from long ago that saved the country of Gallant from the Crimson Knight. The second prince to the throne, Jasper, had imagined the role for himself, but the two nonetheless team up to fight crime, particularly against someone who is terrorizing the aether mines, since aether is the power source for the country. As Lark hides her identity from her fellow boardinghouse friends and gets further embroiled in Gallant’s politics, she starts to understand that the government does not have the best interest of the aether workers in mind, and only the Nightingale and some unionization can facilitate necessary change. A solid if unexpected blend of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and story of the birth of labor unions, this novel works well with its unique premise, drawing from a Radium Girls-esque exposure to aether that causes hazardous working conditions in the mines. Lark is a naïve and optimistic narrator who goes through extreme character development, and her best friend Sophie, who organizes protests and engages in investigative journalism to catch the [End Page 335] Gallant government and the factories in their wrongdoing, is a pillar of information and growth for Lark’s journey. Kids new to workers’ rights and how they function have a great fictionalized example here tied into this “chosen one” hero story.