Inkyard. Jan. 2023. 432p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781335428592.
Gr 6 Up–The popular theory that changeling folklore was originally produced to explain the existence of autism is the basis for this fantasy novel. Iselia or “Seelie” and her sister Isolde are living on the run since they were cast out of their small village due to prejudice against Seelie, who was a changeling swapped for Isolde. Stealing to survive, Seelie and Isolde find a compass that is supposed to lead to an ancient treasure. Reluctantly teaming up with a shapeshifter, who can only turn into birds, and a healer who is better at fighting, the sisters attempt to find this treasure while fleeing the original owners of the compass. Their journey becomes dangerous when a spirit inhabiting the compass attempts to take control of Seelie’s magic. Although the first 200 pages get off to a slow start, exciting action sequences and a twist ending in the second half mostly make up for it. The true selling point of the novel is the autistic main character written by an autistic author, a breath of fresh air to readers who have made do with autistic coded characters and stereotypes. Readers spotting the title can be forgiven for thinking this is a Holly Black–style anti-hero story—and the sections that take place in the magical realm are the strongest parts of the book—but this book is definitely for a younger audience and not quite so dark.
VERDICT Hand to fans of Soman Chainani’s The School for Good and Evil and fantasy fans looking for autistic representation.

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