cover image The Fight for the Hidden Realm (Paper Dragons #1)

The Fight for the Hidden Realm (Paper Dragons #1)

Siobhan McDermott. Delacorte, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-59370-6-114

Via a vividly realized plot set against a backdrop of Cantonese mythology and taking place in provinces across Hong Kong, debut author McDermott crafts a fantastical tale of one tween’s bravery and determination. Twelve-year-old Yeung Zhi Ging wants to leave her village, Fei Chui, where she feels she doesn’t fit in, to become a Silhouette—someone chosen to train in Hok Woh, the realm of the immortals, to become immortal themselves. During her campaign to persuade Silhouette Scout Reishi to take her under his wing, Zhi Ging is attacked by a dragon. Strange happenings reveal that Zhi Ging has untapped powers, prompting Reishi to whisk her away to Hok Woh. There, Zhi Ging must undergo brutal challenges and rigorous lessons to become her nation’s immortal guardian. Attacks on Silhouette Scouts and threats of the Fui Gwai, spirits that force people to hurt their families, evoke anxiety throughout Hok Woh and throw Zhi Ging’s training into further peril. Though the ending of this spirited story is abrupt, it sows anticipation for the next installment, heightening the impact of Zhi Ging’s fast-paced adventure and McDermott’s lusciously detailed worldbuilding. Ages 10–up. (Mar.)