Clarion. Apr. 2024. 368p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780358272106.
Gr 7 Up–With interest in dragon fantasy novels on the rise, Lucier’s new adventure has exquisite worldbuilding inspired by Pacific Island mythos and a comfortable, slow-building romance. Lady Hanalei and Prince Samahtitamahenele grew up together on the matriarchal island of Tamarind, until the day their mother is poisoned, falling into a magical, unending sleep. Tamarind uses all of its resources to find the only possible cure: a rare seadragon egg called dragonfruit, which legend says can grant wishes to those who eat it. But those wishes come at a terrible cost, which Hana’s father learns when he steals the dragonfruit, flees Tamarind, and saves his daughter. Hana, now 18, has lived as an exile, tracking and studying seadragons in the Nominomi Sea. She discovers one of her subjects is pregnant—the dragonfruit could be her way back home if she’s willing to pay the price. Lucier has an incredible talent for creating strong relationships inside large cast of characters, bringing Tamarind and its matriarchal politics to life while layering the family dynamics with love and a painful history. Lucier grew up on Guam, and her love for the Pacific Islands and its diversity shines through while referencing the damage exoticism and colonialism have wrought on the region. Characters are cued Pacific Islander, with some additional diversity outside the main cast.
VERDICT A deeply satisfying standalone readers will race through and a rare Pacific Island–inspired fantasy that belongs in all YA collections.

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