They say the day the Governor arrived, the ravens did too. All the smaller birds flew backwards into the sea, and that is why there are no songbirds on Joya. Only huge, ragged ravens. I’d watch them perch on the rooftops like omens, and try to squint them into the chaffinches and goldcrests Da drew from memory. If I imagined hard enough, I could almost hear them singing.
‘Why did the songbirds leave, Da?’ I’d ask.
‘Because they could, Isabella.’
‘And the wolves? The deer?’
Da’s face would darken. ‘Seems the sea was better than what they were running from.’
Da would tell me another story then, about the girl-warrior Arinta, or about Joya’s mythical past as a floating island, and refuse to say more about the wolves and the backwards birds.
About the book
Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella 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.
A beautifully written and lyrical story of friendship, discovery, myths and magic – perfect for fans of Philip Pullman, Frances Hardinge or Katherine Rundell.
“A fine mix of magic and adventure with a captivating heroine – enthralling and engrossing by turns.”
Celia Rees, author of Witch Child
“I read it, I loved it. Gripping, enjoyable and a book which is beautifully written and designed.”
Malorie Blackman, author of Noughts and Crosses
“An absolute jewel of a book, as vivid and real and the maps inside it. It’s a classic in the making and I know I’ll be re-reading it again and again.”
Melinda Salisbury, author of The Sin Eater's Daughter
“Kiran Millwood Hargrave creates a spellbinding world of magic, myth and adventure. The story holds you like a labyrinth and won’t let you go.”
Emma Carroll, author of Frost Hollow Hall
“A spellbinding adventure from a wonderful new voice in children’s fiction. Beautiful storytelling.”
Abi Elphinstone, author of The Dreamsnatcher
“Truly beautiful writing, within a magical world. I loved it!”
Lisa Heathfield, author of Seed
“[I] loved every second. Myth, magic, monsters, what more could you want?”
Lucy Saxon, author of Take Back the Skies
“Set in a vividly realised parallel world laced with magical realism, this is a mesmerising debut of maps, myths and girls of enormous courage.”
Fiona Noble, The Bookseller
“It’s a lively read and in places recalls fantasy greats such as Philip Pullman and Neil Gaiman … Millwood Hargrave is a name we will be hearing more from; her ideas are original, her imagination impressive – and the book jacket is my favourite of the year so far.”
“Expect to be moved. When you’ve finished, you may want to treasure it like a souvenir – a quality piece of folk-inspired art, full of colour and verve … likely to be a future classic.”
“I loved reading something so different and it is a beautifully written book wrapped up in myths and marvel. Quite possibly a children’s classic for many bookshelves in the future.”
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World (excl. USA & Canada)
Albania, Audio UK and British Commonwealth, Australia, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, France, Galicia, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spanish (World), Sweden, Turkey, New Zealand, Vietnam