cover image Song of Silver, Flame Like Night (Song of the Last Kingdom #1)

Song of Silver, Flame Like Night (Song of the Last Kingdom #1)

Amélie Wen Zhao. Delacorte, $19.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-593-48750-1

Two teenagers uncover their nation’s darkest secrets in this electrifying fantasy series starter by Zhao (the Blood Heir trilogy), inspired by Chinese mythology, philosophy, and xianxia writing, as outlined in an author’s note. Lián’ér, a member of the Hin people of the Last Kingdom, was six when the Elantians invaded her country and killed her mother. Now 18, she goes by Lan and entertains patrons as a singer in Haak’gong’s popular Rose Pavilion Teahouse, one of the only establishments that preserves Hin culture. She also hunts for clues regarding the strange Hin character her mother burned onto Lan’s arm before her death. When an incident at the teahouse results in a dead Elantian general and endangers Lan’s life, she is saved by a magic practitioner named Zen, who quickly realizes that Lan possesses powerful magic. With Elantian soldiers on their tail, the two travel in search of answers surrounding their gifts, facing terrifying demons and dangerous adversaries, and unearthing more questions from the past. The epic novel’s substantial length provides readers with abundant opportunities to luxuriate in Zhao’s lush worldbuilding and gorgeous visuals. Deliberately crafted, well-timed plot beats come at a steady clip, easily investing readers ahead of the planned sequel. Ages 14–up. Agent: Peter Knapp, Park & Fine Literary and Media. (Jan.)