cover image The Floating Islands

The Floating Islands

Rachel Neumeier, Knopf, $16.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-375-84705-9

Neumeier (The City in the Lake) introduces readers to a fascinating new world in this epic tale of aspiration and destiny told in alternating perspectives. After losing his immediate family in a volcanic eruption, Trei finds a new home with his mother's kin, who dwell in the Floating Islands. There, he discovers his one great ambition: to become one of the kajuraihi, who ride the air currents on winged harnesses powered by the same dragon magic that keeps the Islands aloft. He becomes close with his cousin Araenè, who chafes at the social restrictions placed on women and yearns to master the culinary arts reserved for men to study. As Trei joins the kajuraihi as an initiate, circumstances force Araenè to disguise herself as a boy and enroll in the hidden school of the mages. When the empire of Tolounn tries to invade the Floating Islands, both cousins are drawn into the battle, each tested and pushed to their limits, with surprising results. Complex and memorable characters, lush imagery, and a vividly constructed setting make this fantasy adventure soar. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)