Our Divine Mischief

HarperCollins/Blink. Oct. 2023. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780310156222.
Gr 7 Up–Seventeen-year old Aila finally has her mother’s approval to go to the island where the goddess Ysla awaits to award her the medallion that will give her status in the community. But upon arrival, Aila discovers only a rambunctious puppy and no sign of the goddess. Returning home a failure, with a puppy in tow, the priests announce a series of trials for Alia to endure in order to earn her medallion. The priests assign Hew, one of the “unblessed”—a person who returned with a blank medallion and is forced to provide menial services—to look after her and keep things organized, on track, and understandable during the trials. The trials are physically difficult and emotionally overwhelming; but her dog, Orial, provides Aila comfort, resources, and a magic that cements their bond. When the third trial goes awry, bringing politics, violence, and an awareness that Orial might be a key to great power, Orial’s life is endangered. Aila and Hew take action to ensure her safety even at the risk of their own. Told in alternating chapters, including Orial’s poetic voice, this fantasy sets readers firmly in Scottish folklore cementing the story as part romance, part political intrigue, part thriller, and at its heart, a dog story. Readers will root for the three protagonists as they struggle to save Orial, alert their community to the dangers alive in the kingdom, and prove to themselves and their community that they belong and are worthy.
VERDICT Offer this book to readers who enjoy their fantasy mixed with a folklore twist, romance, and, of course, dogs.

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