‘The Girl of Ink & Stars’ is an incredible debut from Kiran Millwood Hargrave which will lead you into a world of magic, darkness and maps. Hold your breath as you embark on a whirlwind adventure through forgotten lands where danger is lurking all around you. Isabella Riosse is growing up in a time where she is forbidden to leave her island. She can only dream of the world beyond in the island’s forgotten territories that her father once mapped. There is a darkness bubbling away underneath the surface of the tiny Isle of Joya. Bad omens are afoot when a child Cata is murdered by unknown beasts and the island’s animals drown themselves in the sea in an attempt to escape. But when her closest friend Lupe disappears, Isa finds herself volunteering as a guide stepping into the unknown with only her father’s maps and her knowledge of the stars to steer her way.
Kiran creates this truly magical world which wraps around you, compelling you forwards on your journey into the story. It flies along at an incredible pace so you feel like your in a tornado, spun around, thrown from place to place until you land feeling confused and unsure. The sense of uneasiness that filled me when reading the story was thrilling, you can almost smell the breaths of the monsters as they circle you looking for their next prey. At the heart of this story we have Isa and Lupe who have forged a friendship despite living contrasting lives, it is their strong bond which drives them to risk their lives to protect the other. Lupe, rich and privileged shows remarkable courage as she tries to find out who or what has killed Cata. Whilst Isa’s dogged determination means she is willing to sacrifice everything to find Lupe. Full of courage and wonder this story will leave you feeling adrift but hopeful.
Kiran’s rich storytelling conjures up this vivid world which stimulates all your senses. She has the ability to make you feel claustrophobic and then alone and lost in the space of a few words. One of my favourite parts of the books is the beautiful descriptions of Isa creating and visualising her maps. Her physical connection to the maps and the stars is powerful and mesmerising. A tale of friendship, discovery, myths and magic you will be captivated and enchanted in equal measures.
Thank you to Chicken House for sending me a copy of this book to review.