Wednesday, 13 May 2020

The Girl of Ink and Stars - Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Date of Reading: 10/05/2020
Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: May 5, 2016
Rating: 3.5/5

(This review is part of the #BookReviewBlogChallenge organised by 
Great New Reads
Day 08, Prompt: Star)

About the book:

Winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2017, and the British Book Awards' Children's Book of the Year 2017

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.

When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.

But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.


      I fell in love with this book the moment I saw that cover. A bad habit probably, but sorry can't help it. A time when boy wizards and demigods rule children's books, it is good to see a thirteen-year-old girl having her own adventures even in the guise of her twin brother. Set in an island steeped in legends and mythical stories, 'The Girl of Ink and Stars' is an ordinary girl's tale of courage and steadfastness.
   Isabelle Riosse is the daughter of a cartographer and is also the best friend of Lupe, the only daughter of the Governor. Due to the dictatorship of her father, Lupe's family is hated by all and consequently, Isabella is her only friend. Lupe's desire to eat dragon fruit on her birthday leads to the death of one of her classmates. Hurt by Isabella's cruel words, she goes in search of the killer determined to prove that not everyone in her family is rotten. A search party is formed and Isabella volunteers to join in order to save her best friend. This is also her chance to map the places outside her village which she was forbidden to visit.
      The island of Joya and its history comes alive through Isabella's eyes and soon we are thrown into a vortex of events involving demonic beasts and hidden tunnels which until then had been thought to be just bedtime stories. With her lucid and clear style, Hargrave brings life and emotions to the intricacies of map-making quite efficiently. I never thought that this vocation can be as exciting as this.
      My sole complaint is regarding the length. The story had the scope of another 'Lord of the Rings', but it is wrapped up too quickly in around two hundred pages. Considering the age group the book is intended for, that could be a wise decision too. Altogether, an enjoyable story that really takes you to the warmth and brightness of stars.

Meet the author:

Kiran Millwood Hargrave is an award-winning poet, playwright, and novelist.

Her books include the bestselling winner of the British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year and the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2017 The Girl of Ink & Stars, and Costa Book Awards- and Blue Peter Awards-shortlisted The Island at the End of Everything, and The Way Past Winter, Blackwell's Children's Book of the Year 2018.

Her debut YA novel The Deathless Girls was published in 2019 and was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize. Her debut book for adults, The Mercies, debuted as The Times number one bestseller, and at number five in the Sunday Times Bestseller Charts. Writing for the New York Times Book Review, Emily Barton called it 'among the best novels I've read in years'.


  1. In a way this reminds me of Moana - young girl trying to save the island. Probably that's where Disney got the idea too! :)

    The cover is gorgeous: 100% agree!

  2. This sounds really interesting!

  3. LOL - You wanted an epic saga

  4. The book sounds lovely. Great review.

  5. I’ve been wanting to read this, but now I’m gonna give it a skip.

  6. I have been hearing about this everywhere. Glad you enjoyed it, despite the pace.


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