From the visionary author of two 2021 Newbery Honor Books, comes a high-seas adventure set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world.
A young woman struggles to unburden herself of the past and chart her own destiny in a world of secrets. As assistant to Mangkon’s most celebrated mapmaker, 12-year-old Sai plays the part of a well-bred young lady with a glittering future. In reality, her father is a low-life conman – and the truth could ruin her. Sai seizes the chance to join an expedition to chart the southern seas, but she isn’t the only one aboard with secrets. When Sai learns that the ship is heading for the fabled Sunderlands – a land of dragons, dangers and riches beyond imagining – she must weigh the cost of her dreams.
A compelling and suspenseful middle-grade fantasy adventure.
Exploits on the high seas and complex characters combine in a tale full of both excitement and heart. An engrossing adventure with the feeling of a whole world to be explored.
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Soontornvat deftly discusses themes of colonization and “discovery,”. . . Employing a presumed Asian cast of well-developed crew members with various skin tones and plenty of emotional depth, this high seas adventure deftly explores complex power dynamics and class hierarchies while maintaining a fast-paced clip.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
All along, Soontornvat (a Newbery honoree for “A Wish in the Dark”) skillfully uses tropes to throw us off. Introduce a young, woebegone heroine questing after a flying monster for glory and the reader can’t help chasing the dragon with her.
The New York Times Book Review
Action drives the narrative forward, creating a real page-turner with intriguing characters. . . Blending Age of Sail historical fiction, adventure, and fantasy within a Thai-inspired setting, this original novel will leave readers hoping for sequels.
Class structure, imperial greed, and environmental ravages underpin the narrative arc of this fantastical adventure story, resonating with our own contemporary issues. At the same time, Soontornvat’s Thai-inspired culture and geography provide a vivid backdrop. With emphasis on an intricate plot and quick, accessible prose, Soontornvat provides plenty of excitement while bringing questions of expansionism and de-colonization to young readers.
The Horn Book