Myra has inherited her Leftie mother’s Ability to become invisible, called flickering, but using it would endanger her high-profile, mixed-blood family.
Living among Plats in New Heart City, Myra stands out, her looks more Leftie (short, fair-skinned, curvy) than Plat (tall, dark, thin), like her father or her friend Porti. (Lefties, lower-caste noncitizens, live mainly in the remote Left Eye.) Porti’s friendship opens doors for Myra and facilitates her romance with the ruling Deputy’s son. The girls anticipate competing in the annual Games, riding wetbeasts through an obstacle course. When it’s announced that all Lefties must be tested for the Ability, Myra’s mother, fearing exposure, wants to flee but fatefully agrees to wait until Myra competes. The narrative suffers from sketchy worldbuilding. Is the Upland island or continent? Why are Upland regions named for body parts as seen from above? Are the venerated Waters sentient? Fantasy needn’t adhere to real-world laws, but readers need guidance—lacking here—to the rules governing the created world if they’re to navigate it. Characterization is more successful. Myra especially sustains interest, struggling to master her own competitiveness, unsure she’s worthy of Porti’s generous, loyal friendship. Myra’s fraught relationship with her mother rings true, as does her sense of her parents’ tense, mysterious bond that produced yet excludes her.
This tale of mixed heritage and divided loyalties with an engaging heroine will appeal to fans of character-driven fantasy. (Fantasy. 12-16)