24 May 2020

Review - The Girl of Ink and Stars

The Girl of Ink and Stars
by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

What they say: Winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2017, and the British Book Awards' Children's Book of Year 2017 

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. 

What I say: The plot of The Girl of Ink and Stars is very different to the story I was expecting, but in a good way. It's a mature middle-grade/YA fantasy adventure meets coming of age story. There's a Moana wanderer vibe combined with a Lord of the Flies element, where people have the potential to be worse than the monsters. There is joy and adventure but real moments of sadness and difficulty.

Isabelle (Isa) wants to explore the world and help her cartographer father create maps. She dreams of wonderful adventures in the Forgotten Territories and beyond. The book itself is an elaborate map and the story has interconnection sections woven together like a map so that it becomes a living part of the story. Isa is brave, headstrong and charming. I wanted her to succeed and felt her sorrow at certain events.

The supporting characters are well developed and added to the story. Oh Lupe and Pablo! I'm also considering a pet chicken!

The message of hope and overcoming adversity really shines through. There's a real sins of the father vibe as well as brilliant friendships. I liked how the darker, more distressing elements were handled and not glossed over. It brings a touch of realism to a fantasy story.

The ending was bittersweet for me. I was happy with how it finished but sad at certain losses.

4 Stars in my sky!

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