Each of us carries the map of our lives on our skin, in the way we walk, even in the way we grow – Kiran Millwood Hargrave.
A tale of courage and adventure whisks us off into another world, one that isn’t too far away from our own, but far enough to add a little spice of mystery and wonder. Isabella is the protagonist, a young thirteen year old who was once a twin. Now it is just her and her crippled Da, a cartographer as well as Isa’s inspiration for loving maps, dreaming of the world and following the stars.
They live quite the peasant’s life on the Isle of Joya, in a town called Gromera that is a prison to its people. Nobody is allowed to venture off into the ocean surrounding it nor are they allowed to discover The Forgotten Territories because Governor Adori says so. Governor Adori is seen as the enemy but Isa is friends with his daughter, Lupe. It is a friendship that crumbles stereotypes between rich and poor, disliked and loved; they are of different worlds and – as all friendships are – are tested when the worst happens.
Strange things start to happen: the children are sent home from school, the animals flee to the ocean with fear in their eyes, a girl is found mutilated in the forest and not one of the Governor’s men seem to be doing a thing about it. It is only when Lupe races through the forbidden forest to the Forgotten Territories in a wild feat to prove to best friend Isa that she is not rotten.
Each and every moment is described in a beautiful way; the rush of the sea, the rage of the creature’s shrieks, the cascade of the waterfall and the galaxy of stars that show the way. Just reading this book felt like magic. It is enchanting, mystical and full of wonder and adventure; it is a new kind of fantasy fiction, one that resonates with the telling of old tales, of myths and legends which is exactly how it should given the myth that is brilliantly entwined between every breath that Isa takes, and every word describes her journey.
The maps are pieces of magic in themselves; not only do some come alive with the water of the River Arinta, the rushes of colourful ink allow them to tell stories, remind Isa’s Da of his adventurous days away at sea. He relives his memories in his maps, and Isa in turn is provided with a glorious, bright glimpse of the incredible world surrounding her, away from the Isle of Joya. In turn, the map that Isa creates is one of her own adventure, intertwining with her own story and the myth that she loves to hear.
Fear and sacrifice also play a role in this tale, as do courage and bravery from the young characters who have to grow up before their time. It is a truly special story and one that people of all ages can and will enjoy.
Have you read The Girl of Ink & Stars? Even the title alone sounds like magic… What are your thoughts?
Love, Faye x