The Girl Of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

by stephenpalmersf

In The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, young Isabella, daughter of a cartographer, dreams of her father’s mysterious maps as she lives on an unspecified island set in a great sea. This environment has nods to the real world – Amrica and Afrik – but is essentially an imagined place.

When her friend vanishes after an enigmatic killing (possibly by people, possibly by beasts) Isabella finds herself following an island myth as she disguises herself as a boy to accompany the expedition to find her friend. But this expedition is run by the grim Governer of the island (a man of Spanish, ie colonial heritage) and the task – not least because it heads off into the Forgotten Territories – is fraught with peril.

The novel is aimed at the younger end of the YA market, I think, and is a very nice read. The indigenous cultural elements are all handled with great sympathy, and, although there seem to be magical elements, it’s not immediately obvious whether they are real or not; and certainly towards the end of the book there is one obvious explanation for what is going on…

Overall: a really good read. Original and enjoyable.