Rebel Skies

Tundra. (Rebel Skies Trilogy: Bk. 1). Feb. 2024. 360p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781774883983.
Gr 7 Up–The first installment of a Japanese-inspired steampunk fantasy for fans of Elizabeth Lim’s Six Crimson Cranes and Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away. Himura is a Crafter, able to control paper and the origami creatures it creates, a power inherited from his ancestors. Shikigami can be the size of a mountain or as small as a mouse, while the crafters who make and control them serve the imperial family—or live in hiding. Kurara, a servant in the Midori flying banquet halls, serves sailors by day and practices her Crafter abilities in secret. Kurara’s world is turned upside down the day Himura finds her and the Midori is destroyed by a shikigami. During their escape, Kurara’s best friend Haru is revealed to be a shikigami in human form. Himura manages to save Haru’s heart, but the only way to restore him is for Kurara to enter Princess Tsukimi’s service and hope to impress the mercurial royal. The unique magic system and worldbuilding are neatly integrated without heavy-handed exposition, engrossing readers in flying cities and origami-wielding soldiers in a world-spanning adventure. Lin cultivates high-octane action sequences and layered, character-driven mysteries, moving effortlessly between different points of view. The character arcs feel incomplete, but there is hope future installments will flesh out what feels thin. Characters read as East Asian.
VERDICT A diverse fantasy adventure about power, responsibility, and hope. Strongly recommended for YA collections.

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