cover image The Ship of Stolen Words

The Ship of Stolen Words

Fran Wilde. Amulet, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4197-4950-6

Wilde (Riverland) explores the meaning of words, intent, and sincerity in a quickly paced portal fantasy that’s both imaginative and thoughtful. When a chance encounter with a word-stealing goblin renders 11-and-a-half-year-old Sam Culver, cued as white, incapable of apologizing, he begins to understand language’s power. While he’s always used “sorry” as an insincere get-out-of-trouble card, he finds himself in hot water when he can’t say it for real to his best friend, brown-skinned Mason, after hurting her feelings at school. His attempts to recover the missing phrase lead him through a portal into the marshlands, where carelessly used and misplaced words mined from Earth are used for myriad purposes, including technological advancement and industrialization. Now Sam must work with Tolver, the goblin who took his regrets, to stop a ruthless cabal of word prospectors before they swipe every empty utterance from his home. Sam’s attempts to repair his friendship with Mason, bond with five-year-old sister Bella, and learn to trust Tolver emphasize friends and family, while Wilde’s depiction of the marshlands’ struggle with ethical sustainability presents a fascinating setting worth further development. A great tale for any word-loving adventure seeker. Ages 8–12. Agent: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Literary. (June)