Original worldbuilding and cosmology spice up a save-the-world romantic adventure.
Five years after fleeing their Turtle-back island home in the dead of night for a treason he was too young to understand, Tenjat and his sister Eflet scrape out a living as subsistence farmers on the back of a different massive Turtle, Island Gunaji. While Tenjat is determined to become a warrior Handler in order to care for his sister, Eflet is disgusted with his goal. But since Eflet (inexplicably) won’t tell Tenjat why his clever plan is so flawed, he sees no alternative. A man who doesn’t pass the Handler tests or apprentice to an artisan has no choice but the shameful life of a hub, or husband, disgracefully burdening the Turtle with children. Luckily, Tenjat passes the Handler tests; less luckily, he feels disgustingly hubbish about Avi, the young woman who is his Handler trainer, who must whip Tenjat into shape in order to save Island Gunaji from starvation, rampaging nagas and the enslaving hordes of other Turtles. Though too much of what Tenjat needs to know is revealed through Eflet, her revelations are so intriguing that her nigh-omniscience is less distracting than it could be. Readers will find watching Hutchins’ unusual magical rules bring about startling consequences for family and political structure utterly fascinating.
Totally fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)