In this distinctively imagined dystopian fantasy, Rachel and Logan must throw their lots together in order to fight for justice against a cruel city-state dictator known as the Commander. At 15, Rachel possesses qualities normally forbidden to girls, such as fighting skills, self-confidence, and a nurtured belief in her own independence. Logan, a few years older, became her courier father’s apprentice when he was an orphan. Now that her father has disappeared, the teens discover, to their mutual dissatisfaction, that Logan has been named Rachel’s protector. In alternating voices, Redwine unfolds the adventures, threats, deep disappointments, and hard-won gains the two teens experience. Logan is a tech whiz who places logic and planning above quick response, while Rachel’s passionate disposition has her reaching further than she can readily grasp. The fantasy elements include a fearsome beast known as the Cursed One, a kind of underground dragon the Commander uses to control the common people. Fans of Ursula K. Le Guin will be excited to meet this new but skilled fantasist. Grades 8-11. –Francisca Goldsmith
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