Tor Teen. Sept. 2019. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250298881.
Gr 9 Up–Boehme’s debut novel creates a new take on the tale of Mulan. When war comes and calls for all families to send an able bodied male, Rain is tasked with a difficult decision: face the uncertainty of her brother and father surviving, or take their place. The choice seems simple to Rain and she soon embarks on an adventure of magic, dragons, and death, knowing that she’ll be killed if discovered to be a girl in disguise. There is a motley variation of secondary characters: from Storm, Rain’s twin who suffers from the effects of a fever as a baby, to Dalen, a boy whose beliefs in magic and dragons are seen as nothing more than a laughable myth. The book has a lyrical writing style and while the characters themselves are not physically described in detail, the story draws readers in. Boehme casts a fresh take on classic tropes in this epic fantasy through her captivating world-building and fantastical creatures, which are not ordinary dragons. The novel has light romance and is heavy on the action. Since this book features the beginnings of a war, there are some violent scenes that depict gruesome deaths.
VERDICT This lush, epic fantasy filled with magic and dragons will circulate well among fans of Tamora Pierce and J.R.R. Tolkien

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