cover image Stain


A.G. Howard. Amulet, $18.99 (528p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3141-9

Princess Lyra, 12, is the only sun-averse girl in the daylight realm of Eldoria. Prince Vesper, 15, is the only night-blind boy in perpetually moonlit Nerezeth. Long ago, the moon retreated underground, dragging Nerezeth, Eldoria’s neighbor, with it. When a sorceress predicts that the sun and moon will reunite when “a prince and princess who ne’er belonged to their own” join hands, the kingdoms arrange Lyra and Vesper’s eventual marriage. Lyra’s Aunt Griselda wants the throne for her own daughter, though, and hatches a murderous plot to help the girl assume Lyra’s identity, leaving Lyra for dead. Crony, a witch, finds and resuscitates the princess, first stealing her memories, and Lyra builds a new life with her, posing as a boy called Stain. Howard keeps readers wondering whether Lyra will recover her past in time to reclaim her future and fulfill the prophecy. Detailed worldbuilding and an intricate setup slow the start of this reimagining of “The Princess and the Pea,” but Howard (the Splintered series) ultimately rewards readers with an emotionally complex tale of fate, inner beauty, and found family that illustrates the strength of love born from friendship. Ages 13–up. (Jan.)