A terminally-ill girl is lured into a fantasy world with a chance at a cure, but magic has a price.
High school senior Madeline, struggling with a deadly lung disease, eagerly exchanges a year of service with the Elenil for her health. Meanwhile, her skeptical friend Jason Wu, worried for her safety, follows along and trades a year of his life for a pudding cup each day for the rest of his life. They find themselves in a world where young humans are recruited to serve and fight in wars against the Scim. While Madeline delights in her ability to breathe freely in the Sunlit Lands, Jason is busy investigating the rules of magic. The Elenil heal wounds, have magical toilets, and give him a war beast whom he names Delightful Glitter Lady. It is too good to be true—until you ask, where does all the poop go? And who accepts the wounds when these young soldiers are injured? Although at times heavy-handed with the religious imagery and social messaging, the issues this story brings up are relevant to current discussions about poverty and cultural extinction. Madeline is white and blonde, Jason is Chinese-American, and their culturally diverse friend group in the Sunlit Lands includes an Apsáalooke and a Native Hawaiian boy.
For Narnia fans who enjoy heavy snark, this is a must-read. (cast of characters, appendix, poem, proverbs, lament, legend, song) (Fantasy. 13-17)