Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Published by: Chicken House Books on 5th May 2016
Genres: Middle-Grade, Fantasy, Adventure, Magic
Links: Goodreads | Wordery | Hive | Kindle
Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.
When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.
But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.
I remember the very first time I met Kiran, and this was at Melinda Salisbury's launch party. Unknowingly, I had mentioned a quick hello to her, a flick of the wrist kind of wave, completely unaware that I was currently speaking to the author of one of my most anticipated novels I had just discovered. I was excited to no end when I first heard and searched up The Girl of Ink and Stars - I'm always on the hunt for magic-filled fantasies with maps. Because for one thing - MAPS. Only, this particular novel focuses on cartography and that had me squealing with elation. Back to our first meeting, it was only due to the lovely Jazz Bartlett that I had cracked the mystery of who I had just spoken to and by then, Kiran had already disappeared.
It felt as though from that point on-wards that I truly knew Kiran's book would turn out to be something special, something I'll treasure and that I needed to read it desperately. Think me weird, but I was completely right. I had the misfortune of being trapped within a truly deadly reading slump in the month of Feburary. I barely finished a single book for nearly a month despite the countless exciting new releases I had at my behest. Instead, I chose to dive into The Girl of Ink and Stars (and my gosh, the proof copy is STUNNING. The finished edition is just as, if not more beautiful).
And slowly but surely, I lapped up each and every word. I endorsed myself into this new magical world where I had grown attached to the characters, fell in love with the the myths and stories spun by the protagonist and explored the lands that had been lingering in Kiran's mind but were now on paper for all the world to see. Her writing is truly outstanding - breathtakingly so, from page one. It truly does feel like reading a fairytale with the magical realism and fantastical elements as we follow Isabella in her adventure through the Forgotten Territories of Joya. A world which I long to return to and hope to do so in the near future.
I haven't experienced reading a story like this since Katherine Rundell's Wolf Wilder and Rooftoppers - both of which are exquisite and wonderfully written and two of my favourite middle-grade tales. Though both author's hold completely different writing styles, they're equally beautiful, unrivaled and powerful till the very last page. Kiran's lyrical writing and imagination is truly inspiring and admirable and I long to see what else she has stored in that great mind of hers!
The Girl of Ink & Stars is a fresh new masterpiece, both compelling and remarkable from the gorgeous cover to the wonderfully written story stored inside that shall ensnare the hearts of many. I wish for all to read this, and for all to fall in love with it the same way I have.