City of Islands

336p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Jul. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062499813.
Gr 5–8—An orphaned girl discovers her talent for magic and awakens a sleeping enchantment. Ever since she can remember, 12-year-old Mara has wanted to learn the singing powers wielded by the mages of her home, the City of Islands. But after the loss of the bone-mage who had raised her, she must put away her dreams and support herself by diving in search of antiquities for a wealthy patroness. One of her finds starts a chain of events that endangers her and her friends. She soon realizes that the simple songs she learned from her mother may have the strength to save them all. Wallace creates an intriguing world. Mara's skills as a swimmer and diver as well as a magic user make her an unusual, appealing protagonist. The racial and ethnic diversity within this seagoing nation, as well as its powerful female leaders and acceptance of same-gender marriages, make for a welcome reboot of the standard sword-and-sorcery setting.
VERDICT An adventurous story that will appeal to middle school fantasy readers.

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