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.
So, some of you may know that I work as a children’s bookseller at Waterstones, and last month this book was announced as the overall winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. So I figured I should probably read it.
Let me just start by saying that this book didn’t read like your typical “kid’s book”. There was so much going on here, including some pretty terrifying demons that I certainly wouldn’t have liked to run into as an 11 year old… I’d actually say that this read more like a YA novel, but has that similar characteristic that Harry Potter has, in the sense that it can be equally enjoyed by both young and older readers.
It was filled with heart, and courage, and I just kept turning page after page. I flew through this in a couple of days because I simply couldn’t put it down. Isabella’s bravery and loyalty to her friends and father is inspiring, and for this reason, I feel that it’s important for children to read more of this quality writing. As well as being an intense and thrilling adventure story, it also teaches us that nothing is more valuable than strong friendships, trust and bravery to explore the unknown – who knows, you might just save a whole lot of people in the process…
I’ve read a couple of books on the shortlist for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and I have to say, while the others were wonderful, this was a deserved winner, and also, one of the very few 9-12 books with an ethnic MC.
Definitely worth reading if you fancy a nice bit of light relief from adult literature!
View The Girl of Ink and Stars on Goodreads