FICTION

The Last Fallen Star

Disney-Hyperion/Rick Riordan Presents. (Gifted Clans: Bk. 1). May 2021. 336p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781368059633.
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Gr 4-8–This latest installment of “Rick Riordan Presents” features Korean-inspired mythology filled with goddesses, witch clans, ghosts, and fantastical creatures. Despite her family’s attempts at inclusion, 12-year-old Riley Oh has always felt invisible, like an outsider. They are Gom, one of six secret clans of gifted witches. Riley’s adopted and doesn’t possess the magical healing powers they all do. Driven by her need to belong, she hatches a plan with her sister Hattie to cast a spell that would share Hattie’s magic with Riley. When the spell backfires, Riley must step up to save Hattie and confront the truth of her heritage. During her quest, Riley learns to challenge her biases and that every story contains more than one perspective. The most important lesson, though, is one of self-acceptance as she finds strength and belonging with those who love her. While most tweens aren’t tasked with impossible missions to save the world, many can relate to Riley’s feelings of insecurity and need for validation. She is a heroine whose flaws make her relatable in this highly imaginative and original story. Many Korean terms and authentic cultural references enrich the action-packed plot, including crave-inducing food descriptions.
VERDICT Full of humor and thrills, this bewitching fantasy blends Korean mythology into an empowering adventure.

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