Synopses & Reviews
On an island of sandy beaches, dense jungles, and slumbering volcanoes, colonists seek to apply archaic laws to a new land, bounty hunters stalk the living for the ashes of their funerary pyres, and a smiling tribe is despised by all as traitorous murderers. It is here, in the midst of ancient tensions and new calamity, that two sisters are caught in adeadly web of deceits.
Arilou is proclaimed a beautiful prophetess—one of the island's precious oracles: a Lost. Hathin, her junior, is her nearly invisible attendant. But neither Arilou nor Hathin is exactly what she seems, and they live a lie that is carefully constructed and jealously guarded.
When the sisters are unknowingly drawn into a sinister, island-wide conspiracy, quiet, unobtrusive Hathin must journey beyond all she has ever known of her world—and of herself—in a desperate attempt to save them both. As the stakes mount and falsehoods unravel, she discovers that the only thing more dangerous than the secret she hides is the truth she must uncover.
"British author Hardinge's latest feat is a luminous example of gifted storytelling at its best. Set on Gullstruck, an enchanted island of dueling dormant volcanoes, lush jungles and warring tribes, two sisters in a shunned race of perpetually smiling Lace people possess a secret. Arilou, first in line to become the next Lady Lost (a hallowed figure with a propensity for out-of-body travel), shows no sign of being the mystic she is believed to be. Hathin, Arilou's official 'translator' and unofficial guardian, attempts to hide their deceit at all costs. But when a Lost Inspector comes to town to authenticate Arilou's identity, their ruse and the fate of the Lace people is in danger. The detailed tale that unfolds is epic, but unlike some long-for-long's-sake snooze fests, this journey feels effortless and wholly satisfying. Deliciously complex yet easily digestible, Hardinge's (Well Witched) prose is what makes the reading so enjoyable ('While Arilou's name was meant to sound like the call of an owl... Hathin's name imitated the whisper of settling dust'). Every turn of phrase (like the book itself) is thick with poetry and meaning. Ages 10 up. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“A deeply imaginative story, with nuanced characters, intricate plotting, and an amazingly original setting.”- ALA Booklist
“Brilliantly conceived, perfectly executed and utterly mesmerizing.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Kids will find that this is a world like nothing theyve ever encountered before and that theyll never want to leave. Its Hardinges magnum opus.”Betsy Bird, NYPL librarian/SLJ blogger (Fuse Number 8)“Relentlessly inventive. This novel is just plain fun.”- School Library Journal
“An impressive heroine [and] a many-layered, richly rewarding story.” Horn Book (starred review)
“A luminous example of gifted storytelling at its best.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Two young sisters who live on a beautiful island soon become caught in a deadly web of deceit. Neither girl is exactly what she pretends to be, and when they are drawn into a sinister conspiracy, one discovers that the only thing more dangerous than the secret she hides is the truth she must uncover.
About the Author
Frances Hardinge is the celebrated author of Fly By night, Well Witched, and The Lost Conspiracy. She spent her childhood in Kent, England, in a huge, isolated old house in a small, strange village, and from an early age she wrote stories filled with magic and vivid characters. Ms. Hardinge studied at Oxford University, where she was a founding member of a writers' workshop. This is her fourth novel.