256p. HarperCollins. Nov. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062498755.
Gr 4–6—Goldeline has lived a harsh life and is haunted by visions of her past. Her mother was burned at the stake for being a witch by the evil Preacher, and her fellow townspeople think that she must be a witch as well. Life in the Hinterlands is tough. Forced to live on the run from the Preacher, she spends her days colluding with a group of bandits attempting to steal from innocent passersby. While doing her "damsel in distress" act with the thieves, she encounters a young boy named Tommy who has lived a similar life—on the run, fending for himself. When she attempts to help Tommy, she unwittingly grabs the unwanted and dangerous attention of the Preacher. Goldeline and Tommy must work together to elude capture or face certain death. The only place to escape to is the dark, mysterious woods where magical creatures, undiscovered terrors, and her own potential magical powers await. Cajoleas crafts a story that echoes many elements of today's world while still being fully entrenched in the fantastical. Goldeline is a determined young girl who knows what she wants but is sometimes unsure of how to achieve it (a relatable feeling for many young readers). While the story suffers from pacing issues in the beginning, those who stick with it will be rewarded by a complex yet approachable mythology featuring a strong female protagonist.
VERDICT A solid purchase for most collections, particularly where middle grade fantasy is in demand.

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