cover image The Wind Rises (Alma #1)

The Wind Rises (Alma #1)

Timothée de Fombelle, trans. from the French by Holly James, illus. by François Place. Europa Editions, $18.99 (410p) ISBN 978-1-60945-787-7

Two vividly wrought parallel stories, set in the 18th century, intertwine in this gripping historical adventure, a series opener by de Fombelle (Vango). Thirteen-year-old Alma lives in Isaya, a fictional secluded West African valley, with her brothers, Lam and Soum; their mother, Nao; and their father, Mosi. The reason for their isolation is unknown to the children, who have never been outside the valley, but Alma, believing that “even in paradise, you have to tell stories and create imaginary worlds for children,” weaves tales for Lam about the world “over there.” Curious and wanting to witness “over there” for himself, Lam disappears, prompting Alma and Mosi to go searching for him. Meanwhile, 14-year-old Joseph Mars, a white orphan who hails from Lisbon, boards the Sweet Amelie, a ship captained by despicable Lazarus Gardel, who plans to “bring back captives from Africa.” As the Amelie makes port and Alma leaves her valley for the first time, Alma and Joseph’s lives converge. Place’s (The Last Giants) intricate b&w line art skillfully portrays the siblings’ joyful adventures, powerfully contrasting Joseph’s harrowing experiences aboard Gardel’s ship. De Fombelle uses richly detailed, consistently engaging prose, suspenseful atmosphere, and a complex cast to deliver an action-packed tale about heartbreak and resilience. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)