Bestselling teen author Mead weaves Chinese folklore, themes of family, courage, and loyalty, plus her signature romance into her first stand-alone fantasy novel.
At the top of a jagged mountain, an isolated mining village exists in silence. Fei, like her fellow villagers, cannot hear or speak. For generations, they’ve been cut off from the rest of the world and rely on a zip line that carries food up from the valley below. In exchange, they send down precious metals. As artists who record daily events pictorially, Fei and her sister, Zhang Jing, live a more comfortable life than most. However, with many villagers losing their sight, Zhang Jing included, and dwindling food supplies, something must be done. One day, Fei wakes up with her hearing miraculously restored, the perfect “weapon” to save her village. Fei teams up with her childhood sweetheart, Li Wei, and they descend the mountain together. After several harrowing adventures and near misses, Fei and Li Wei discover the horrific truth behind their circumstances. Can they rally their people together against the oppressive regime and conquer forbidden love too? While Mead may be commended for attempting to create a world based on a non-Western culture, her use of Chinese mythology and culture is superficial at best. She could have renamed her characters and plonked them down in medieval England with no real narrative impact.
Readers hoping for non-Western fantasy alternatives need to look elsewhere. (Fantasy. 14 & up)