cover image Wingbearer

Wingbearer

Marjorie Liu, illus. by Teny Issakhanian. Quill Tree, $22.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-

Young Zuli, Black and apparently human, doesn’t know where she comes from or who, exactly, she is. Raised by bird spirits at the Great Tree, where birds’ souls go to be reborn after death, Zuli (along with owl companion Frowly) ventures into the living world to discover why souls have stopped arriving and why the Tree itself has grown “a leaf without a soul.” There, they find a fantastical, cinematically portrayed world of decrepit ruins, lush forests, and sweeping plains, populated by goblins, wraiths, and griffins—all under siege by the Witch-Queen, who plots from afar to capture Zuli after she embarks on her quest. Liu (Monstress, for adults) crafts a compelling, brave, and joyful protagonist in Zuli (“Is it going to hurt?” Zuli asks, before heading forward after Frowly says yes). Debut artist Issakhanian renders painterly illustrations with luminescent, vibrant colors that convey captivating magic and energy. Though lettering, with overly horizontal balloons and clunky tails, sometimes proves distracting, this epic fantasy adventure with a classic feel demands a follow-up. Ages 8–12. Agent: Duvall Osteen, Aragi. (Mar.)