4 stars

I won this book through a Facebook giveaway and was very excited to read it, having loved Barnhill’s previous book, The Witch’s Boy.

This is a beautiful book. You can tell right from the cover that it will be magical and lovely. I really liked the characters, especially the fact that there were so many female characters. It’s a book about friendship and family and love and that is what makes it so magical (along with all the dragons and spells and you know, magic).

The story follows multiple characters and tells each of their stories in bits. This makes the book very interesting to read, but at the same time, a bit confusing. It also draws out the book quite a bit. This is clearly a very long book and the first three-quarters of it seemed to all be set up. While this was poetic and beautiful, it also kind of dragged on at parts. The rising action of the book is so long that it gets a little slow.

But that last quarter of the book that tied everything together: that was purely fantastic. Once the book reaches the climax, it is simply magical.

The writing throughout the book was very well-done. The imagery was amazing and all the little connections between the characters was fascinating. But again, since the reader follows all the characters, he or she knows more than the characters themselves, causing the story to kind of drag on while the characters catch up to the reader.

Overall, a beautifully-written book with complex political messages simplified into an easy format for children to understand, great characters, and amazing magical elements.

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