As a lifelong fan of blue things, how great is this cover? So many shades of blue! And BIRDS! I very much like birds. If there is a t-shirt with a bird on it, I’ll buy it. Necklace with a bird? Sold. Anyway, I really expected to like this book. And guess what? I did!
Olga is travelling away from the city of Stolitsa after father is demoted from his job. Her actress stepmother is very prettily put out by it all, and her sister isn’t looking forward to it either. Their life of excesses is about to become very cold and remote, sent away from all they love…and all they’ve been told. But in their new home, things start to become apparent: that what they’ve been told about the Birds her people have been at war with all these years isn’t necessarily true. And that magic, banned in her city, is still very much a part of the rest of the world. Back home, a girl who appears remotely magical is sent swiftly to the Bleak Steppe–a place nobody returns from. Now, Olga realises she may have a power she never realised, and hiding it from everyone isn’t going to stop the terrifying chain of events coming her way.
This is a big, windy and smart adventure, set on cold plains and mountains and in the sky and everywhere. It’s got the thrill of magic, unexpected surprises, and characters that are more deep than you’d first think. I love it when people aren’t all good or all bad, because mostly, that’s not how the world works. Grownups might suck sometimes, but their intentions are usually good. Kids can be jerks, but that’s because they’re still learning. Kids can also be very, very brave, and bold, and fight for what they believe in. This is great fun, and all the magic parts are just divine.
The only thing I want to point out: I do not like mushrooms, and far too many of them are eaten in this book. You have been warned.