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City of Islands by Kali Wallace (2018)
By Piranha T.
Long ago, the founders, aquatic beings with blue-green scales and powerful magic, raised stone from the sea and sang the City of Islands into being. But when the founders disappeared, the most powerful of their song-spells vanished with them. Now, although many of the songs are still remembered, the most ancient and complex have been lost to time.
Mara has always dreamed of mastering spell-songs and learning to become a mage. But after the death of not just her parents, but also of the mage Bindy, who took her in after they died, that dream seems unlikely. Instead, the Lady of the Tides employs her to dive in the ocean around the City of Islands to find artifacts from the time of the founders. She rarely discovers anything of interest, but her earnings are enough to keep her from the streets.
One day, Mara discovers a deposit of bones on the ocean floor which seem to be left over from the time of the founders and sing with spell-song. And when she shows them to the Lady of the Tides, it seems that they can be traced back to one person—the same mage who killed Bindy two years before.
As Mara delves deeper into secrets which someone powerful has done quite a lot to hide, she finds herself caught up in something much bigger than just the mysterious bones. And she might be the only one who knows enough to stop the mastermind behind it before it’s too late.
City of Islands was an engrossing book. Kali Wallace expertly wielded the details of the world and the spell-songs, creating a setting which felt absolutely real, and an unusual type of magic which is now one of my favorites. Mara was a heroine with her own desires and personality, and the plot surprised me at every turn, two things I always love in a story. The whole book felt completely unique, to the point that when I tried to come up with a similar book, I couldn’t! I would highly recommend City of Islands to lovers of multilayered worlds and complex plots ages ten and up.
A note from Piranha T: If you like City of Islands, check out our interview with the author here!
Author Interview: Laurie Graves
Interview by Piranha T. and Super Kitty
Laurie Graves is the author of Maya and the Book of Everything and the sequel, Library Lost, fantasy novels for teens and tweens. We love her books for their amazing worlds and great characters. We were so excited to interview her about her books, particularly Maya and the Book of Everything, this month.
RapunzelReads: What books inspired you when you were growing up?
Laurie Graves: The books that inspired me were Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. When I read A Wrinkle in Time, in the late 1960s, I had never encountered such a wild, thrilling story that incorporated science, time travel, and fantasy with vivid characters. It almost felt as though an electrical charge was coming to me from the book. Then there was The Lord of the Rings, which pulled me right into Middle Earth. I was there with Frodo and Sam as they made their way to Mordor, and there seemed to be no veil between me, the reader, and Tolkien’s story. Last but certainly not least is Shakespeare. I fell in love with him when I was in seventh grade, and that love continues to this day. When I first started reading Shakespeare, there was a lot I didn’t understand, but it didn’t matter. I was completely dazzled by the way he used language, and I could hardly believe that anyone could write so brilliantly. Even now, I am still in awe.
RR: What was your inspiration for Maya and the Book of Everything?
LG: Years ago, my husband and I published a magazine called Wolf Moon Journal. To help with editing, I used a book called The Chicago Manual of Style. It’s like a giant
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