cover image Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword

Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword

Henry Lien. Holt, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-16569-5

In this auspicious and massively entertaining series opener set in an Asian-inspired fantasy world, a young woman pursues her dream of mastering wu liu, which combines figure skating and martial arts. Fourteen-year-old Peasprout Chen and her younger brother, Cricket, are sent to the Pearl Famous Academy as part of an exchange between their homeland of Shin and the city of Pearl, where they must prove themselves worthy by passing numerous challenges. Hazards abound, including rival students, sabotage, and diplomatic tensions. Peasprout attempts to protect her brother, avoid new enemies, prove her innocence when she’s accused of being a spy, and excel at her studies, but her greatest challenge may be overcoming her own hubris and stubbornness. Building on a lushly described world introduced in several short stories, debut novelist Lien crafts a memorable setting and cast while delivering a fast-paced, tense plot full of surprises. The descriptions of wu liu are elegant and cinematic, and Peasprout’s moves are as sharp as her tongue. Peasprout Chen is a future legend, indeed. Ages 10–14. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM Partners. (Apr.)