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THE WIND RISES by Timothée de Fombelle


From the Alma series, volume 1

by Timothée de Fombelle ; translated by Holly James ; illustrated by François Place

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-60945-787-7
Publisher: Europa Editions

Pirates and enslavers traverse the 18th-century seas in this novel spanning the disparate corners of the triangular trade.

In a West African valley, 13-year-old Alma; her brothers, Lam and Soum; and their parents, Nao and Mosi, live in isolation for reasons unknown to the children. The appearance of a creature the young people take for a solid-white zebra draws their attention to the outside world, threatening the family’s serenity. The kidnapping, enslavement, and commerce of African peoples is intimately familiar to Nao, who escaped capture with the help of Mosi, a former slave trader himself. Thirteen-year-old Joseph Mars, an orphan secretly seeking a mysterious fortune, learns of the slave trade’s terror and brutality aboard The Sweet Amelie, a vessel with a callous, greedy captain that he sneaked onto in Lisbon. Lam’s pursuit of the white horse, Alma’s pursuit of her brother, and Mosi’s attempts to save his family from enslavers are interwoven with Joseph’s clandestine search for gold and the account of a 14-year-old French heiress who has inherited tremendous debts alongside ownership of The Sweet Amelie. While forming compelling threads of an adventure, the plot relies on horrors and trauma that contrast the witty, humorous, and immersive writing with the very different stakes for the European and African characters. The author’s attention to historical detail and Place’s striking line drawings add charm and romance to a story that sometimes struggles to justify either.

A well-written series opener uncomfortably built upon real historical tragedies.

(Historical fiction. 13-18)