The Hidden Twin

336p. ebook available. St. Martin's Griffin. Mar. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250036322.
Gr 7–10—In this coming-of-age fantasy, the nameless teenage narrator has spent her life in hiding because her society would put her to death as an evil monster. She's a human-appearing Redwing, the magical offspring of a powerful Other who emerged from a volcanic lava pool to save her human father's life. When the Redwing disguises herself as her human twin to destroy a plant that will reveal her true nature, she's drawn into a conspiracy to seize a volcano god's power. The author has concocted an unusual setting in the ash-strewn shadows of the volcano Mol, where birds are the only animal life in evidence and the wealthy ride giant striches through grimy city streets. Many characters have hidden motivations and agendas for the Redwing and her powers, and the climax comes as a surprise, validating the protagonist's essential goodness. The contemporary-sounding commentary of the characters is occasionally jarring against the otherworldly tone of the story, but liberal helpings of mystery and danger help to pull readers along. Two potential romances with a conspirator and with the son of the Empress add to the appeal.
VERDICT Purchase where Tamora Pierce's books are popular.

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