Zhao, Amelie Wen. Song of Silver, Flame Like Night. Delacorte Press, 2023. 978-0593487501. $19.99. 480p. Grades 9-12.
Lan is a performing song girl in Haak’gong, and although her life appears to be the same as the other girls she lives and performs with, she has a secret. Lan spends her days trying to understand the message behind the strange mark left on her arm by her mother before she died. In her quest for answers, she meets Zen. Zen is a practitioner and only uses his magic in secret. When their worlds collide one fateful night, Zen agrees to take Lan to his practitioner masters after she uses her powers in a moment of panic. As Lan begins to understand her powers and the fate of her mother and her people, Lan realizes that everyone has secrets. She’s swept up in a war to overthrow the Elantian regime who want to outlaw her magic. Drawing upon ancient Chinese myths and legends, Zhao has crafted a story of love, loss, betrayal, and power. Will Lan and Zen use the powers they possess to save their world, or will they destroy it?
THOUGHTS: This book really kept me on my toes! I felt that a lot of the characters made surprising decisions that somewhat “broke the mold” of what I would expect of a YA character. There is a ton of gray area when it comes to the magic the characters possess and the decisions they make when it comes to obtaining power to protect the ones they love. Readers will enjoy the action, mystery, and adventure this fantasy novel provides as well as the inclusion of ancient Chinese mythology.
Tan, Sue Lynn. Daughter of the Moon Goddess. Harper Voyager, 2022. 978-0-008-47929-9. 501 p. $27.99. Grades 9-12.
Xingyin was raised on the moon by her mother, unaware that they were actually hiding from the Celestial Emperor. One day, Xingyin’s magic causes her to have to leave her mother behind, and she ends up training alongside the Celestial Emperor’s son. Xingyin tries not to let anything distract her, especially a romance with the ‘enemy’ and she begins working on trying to save her mother. Will Xingyin be able to have both a relationship with the ones she loves and save her mother, or will she have to choose?
THOUGHTS: This was an amazing debut novel full of Chinese mythology, romance, and fantasy. The size of this novel is intimidating; however, the pages fly as the reader delves into the world that Sue Lynn Tan has created. I highly recommend this book for any fantasy lover or just someone who loves a well-written book.
Fantasy Mary McEndree, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy
Lin, Judy I. A Magic Steeped in Poison. Feiwel and Friends, 2022. 978-1-250-76708-0. 364 p. $18.99. Grades 5-8.
This debut fantasy novel revolves around a magical competition to find the kingdom’s best Master of the Art of brewing tea. Ning is desperate to compete and win this competition after her mother dies from a poisoned tea and her sister is slowly dying from the same tea. Ning is hopeful that winning the competition will give her access to the antidote to save her sister. However, she becomes caught up in the politics and magic of the kingdom. She is clever and determined to win this competition and save her sister at any cost.
THOUGHTS: This book is for students who are huge fantasy lovers as well as those who love mythology. The characters are well-written, and the action starts slowly but it builds fast. There is a glossary in the back for Chinese terms and pronunciation which was quite helpful while reading.
Fantasy Victoria Dziewulski, Plum Borough SD