A Newbery Honor Book
A Walter Dean Myers Honor Book for Teen Readers

From Christina Soontornvat, the visionary and versatile author of two 2021 Newbery Honor Books, comes a high-seas adventure set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world.

In a fantasy adventure every bit as compelling and confident in its world building as her Newbery Honor Book A Wish in the Dark, Christina Soontornvat explores a young woman’s struggle to unburden herself of the past and chart her own destiny in a world of secrets. As assistant to Mangkon’s most celebrated mapmaker, twelve-year-old Sai plays the part of a well-bred young lady with a glittering future. In reality, her father is a conman—and in a kingdom where the status of one’s ancestors dictates their social position, 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 might be heading for the fabled Sunderlands—a land of dragons, dangers, and riches beyond imagining—she must weigh the cost of her dreams. Vivid, suspenseful, and thought-provoking, this tale of identity and integrity is as beautiful and intricate as the maps of old.


Christina Soontornvat grew up in a small Texas town, where she spent many childhood days behind the counter of her parents’ Thai restaurant with her nose in a book. She is the author of many books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor Books A Wish in the Dark and All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, also a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book and a YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults finalist. Christina Soontornvat lives in Austin, Texas.


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

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)

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.


The spare, evocative prose immediately places readers in the hold of the story, and the Dickensian colorfulness of the characters and Sai’s clipped delivery will have kids tearing through pages at an eager pace. Soontornvat brings a naturalness to her worldbuilding in this Thai-inspired landscape that will allow fans of magical realism and high adventure to find a tale worth cherishing. . . . A gripping story with multiple layers, including action, magic, and a ­thought-provoking through line of colonization and the role of manifest destiny, this original novel will leave middle grade readers wanting to journey through this land of dreams and dragons again and again.

School Library Journal (starred review)


Newbery Honor Book
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