Rosie Frost and the Falcon Queen

Philomel. (Rosie Frost: Bk. 1). Oct. 2023. 464p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593623343.
Gr 4-7–Rosie Frost has always been an outcast. When she gets the shocking news of her mother’s death, she is sent to the elite Heverbridge School on Bloodstone Island with little explanation—how did she get there, and what connection does it have to her mother? In addition to dealing with the typical mean girls, Rosie must now contend with a sinister headmaster, an island that defies the laws of nature, and the ghost of Queen Elizabeth I. Determined to prove herself, she signs up for the Falcon Queen games. Winning, though, is trickier than she thinks, and the games are just a piece of a much more complicated plot. Rosie will need to rely on her friends and trust her instincts not only to win but to save the whole island, too. This book mixes elements of fantasy with history, mystery, and adventure, but it is, at its core, a coming-of-age story. Rosie blossoms when she starts to let her walls down, and the supporting characters who eventually become her friends round out the story. The school and the island are fantastic settings: readers will be bursting to visit Bloodstone Island, with its rare creatures and old secrets. The main plot is slow to start; the book at times feels long, but readers will be engaged enough that most won’t mind.
VERDICT If an English boarding school on an island full of wild, rare animals isn’t enough to grab readers, Rosie Frost, an empowering new heroine, certainly will.

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