A girl with a rare magical gift and her allies must save the kingdom from treachery in this absorbing fantasy conclusion to the adventure begun in Heartseeker (2018).
It’s been three months since 11-year-old Only Fallow was brought, unwillingly, to Bellskeep. Only’s been taken to be the king’s Mayquin: She sees lies and is unable to tell any herself. Even as a prisoner, Only, who presents white like her captors, knows she’s vastly better off than her Ordish friends. The Ordish, a romanticized group of boat-dwellers, suffer immense racism, and many of their children have been taken as indentures—that is, slaves. Only and her Ordish friend Lark are secretly helping along a plot to put the princess on the throne; unlike her father, the princess isn’t biased against the Ordish. But can the girls trust the noblewoman running the scheme? When Lark and Only are framed for a terrible crime, they have only one chance to save the kingdom from a terrible end—and if they fail, the Ordish will meet an appalling fate. With the help of two wacky criminal scoundrels, Only and Lark undertake an exciting quest to reveal the dark truth. As Only navigates these treacherous waters, she engages in thoughtful meditations on relative privilege and conspicuous consumption in the presence of poverty. Why, though, isn’t this quest to save the Ordish Lark’s story, instead of Only’s?
A mostly satisfying conclusion to a cozy yet surprisingly thought-provoking magical ordeal. (Fantasy. 9-12)