What’s it all about?:
Winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017, and the British Book Awards’ Children’s Book of Year 2017
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.
What did I think?:
I’ve been wanting to read this book for the longest time! Debut author Kiran Millwood Hargrave won both the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the British Book Awards Children’s Book Of The Year in 2017 and with that stunning cover, I couldn’t resist much longer and made sure to suggest it to Chrissi when we were compiling our Kid Lit list for this year. In the end I have to admit, I wasn’t completely blown away by this book although there were many parts of it that I adored BUT I think if I had been the right age bracket for this novel, I would have rated it a lot higher. As a middle grade fiction read, it’s easy to fly through these pages in one sitting and both the fantastical and adventure elements are hugely appealing for children of both genders.
This is the story of Isabella Riosse who lives on a small island with her cartographer father under the tyrannical rule of the Governor whose daughter Lupe, Isabella happens to be best friends with. The Governor has cut off large portions of the land as forbidden and there are a lot of local legends about how the land used to be before the Governor’s time. Residents of the island are reminded that they are not permitted to venture beyond the forest into what is known as The Forbidden Territories so when the Governor’s daughter disappears there and is presumed lost, Isabella disguises herself as a boy and offers her map-reading skills to the Governor in the hunt to retrieve Lupe. Isabella is ecstatic at the prospect of seeing part of the land previously forbidden to everyone but is not entirely prepared for the journey she ends up going on, one that involves a desperate fight to save the land she loves dearly.
As I’ve mentioned, this story has a lot of things going for it and when I first started, I was in awe of how the author set the scene and introduced her characters, particularly Isabella. The world she lives in is fascinating and I was intrigued by the setup and history however this is also where the story fell down slightly for me. I just wanted more. I would have loved the author to have gone into more detail about the world including The Forbidden Territories and how the Governor came to power and I felt this was touched on too briefly and left me feeling slightly confused about how exactly everything happened. This was also the case with the characters, sadly. Isabella was a wonderful female protagonist and I loved her bravery and tenacity in helping her friend, especially considering the horrors she comes across along her incredible journey. She had such great potential and yet somehow, I still didn’t feel like I really knew her at the end of it all which was a shame. Saying all this, The Girl Of Ink And Stars is still a masterful, exciting story that I’m sure will capture the hearts of many children around the world. It’s fast-paced, very easy so read and packed full with the most brilliant magical elements that kept me constantly eager to turn the pages.
For Chrissi’s fantastic review, please see her blog HERE.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT UP IN APRIL ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: Ratburger by David Walliams.