cover image Splinter & Ash (Splinter & Ash #1)

Splinter & Ash (Splinter & Ash #1)

Marieke Nijkamp. Greenwillow, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-332626-2

After years away, 12-year-old Princess Adelisa of Calinor—Ash to her friends—returns home to the kingdom’s capitol of Kestrel’s Haven. There, Ash, who walks with a cane and uses braces to support her joints, feels unwelcome by those who perceive her as “fragile and unfit.” Then she meets Splinter, who believes that her dreams of becoming a squire are forfeit because she’s “not a boy” (“But you’re not a girl, either,” Ash retorts). Ash sponsors her for squire training in what the princess deems a “simple solution.” Still, the duo contends with hostility and scorn from all sides, including from Ash’s older brother, Prince Lucen. But when Ash is kidnapped by the kingdom’s enemies, Splinter will do anything to rescue her—if Ash doesn’t save herself first. In this thrilling trilogy opener, Nijkamp (Ink Girls) assuredly introduces an intersectionally diverse cast of complex and fiercely resourceful characters who must navigate threats both physical and social. With Ash’s kindness and intelligence, and Splinter’s indomitable knightly spirit, the two make an ideal partnership and a winning addition to boundary-defying heroines like Alanna of Trebond and Sir Callie. Ash and Splinter are depicted on the cover with pale skin. Ages 8–12. Agents: Suzie Townsend and Sophia M. Ramos, New Leaf Literary. (Sept.)