cover image Liar’s Test

Liar’s Test

Ambelin Kwaymullina. Knopf, $19.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-59357-178-1

Fifteen-year-old Bell Silverleaf, a Treesinger, is the only survivor of her grove, which fell to a mysterious sleeping sickness. She now lives among the Risen, worshippers of gods who used to walk among the people. The Risen invaded her land, oppressed her people, and abused her for years, which makes it even more surprising when Bell, along with six other girls, is invited to participate in the Queen’s Test, a series of challenges meant to determine the next queen, who will rule for 25 years. It’s the same outcome every cycle: two girls will die, two will fall into an endless slumber, and two will advise the winner, the next queen. Bell isn’t content with just being one of the survivors: she aims to secure the queenship and use her power to help the remaining Treesingers. But her wits may not be enough to save her when the Risen gods and her own Ancestors arrive to change the stakes of the game. While thoughtful examinations of colonization, heritage, religion, and systemic oppression are occasionally muddled, intriguing and layered worldbuilding that draws on the author’s Australian Indigenous culture steals the show in this serpentine fantasy adventure by Kwaymullina (The Things She’s Seen). Bell cues as Aboriginal. Ages 12–up. Agent: Katelyn Detweiler, Jill Grinberg Literary. (May)