Abrams/Amulet. Jan. 2021. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419738517.
Gr 7 Up–A tavern wench, an ice queen, a volcano demon, a thief, a captain of the guard, and a magical feather are at the core of Kaplan’s novel. Tanya has run the tavern owned by her benefactor since he rescued her when her mother abandoned her. Once he dies, Tanya discovers that he has not left a will and the tavern’s supplies are quickly confiscated by the shady queen’s guardsmen who are transporting a mysterious box to the capital. Tanya joins the guardsmen on their trek to the capital, determined to ask the queen to grant her the deed to the tavern. Once upon the road, the group is robbed by Jana, a nimble thief who shows Tanya the contents of the mysterious box before disappearing. The contents of the box dominates the rest of Kaplan’s tale of fantasy, magic, and the will of a tavern wench to determine her fate. Kaplan’s work is compelling but feels somewhat disjointed. There are three distinct parts to the story and the second segment does not continue to build upon the secondary character relationships introduced in the first. When the secondary characters appear again in the third section, the relationships do not feel as genuine. Jana has brown skin and dark hair, while Tanya’s appearance isn’t specified.
VERDICT Overall, the powerfully depicted feminine characters are a joy to see develop, and the casual acceptance of same-sex relationships is portrayed exceptionally well. Recommended for fans of Tricia Levenseller’s Daughter of the Pirate King.

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