cover image The Ascenditure

The Ascenditure

Robyn Dabney. Fitzroy, $19.95 (324p) ISBN 978-1-64603-475-8

High stakes and cinematic worldbuilding anchor Dabney’s immersive debut. In the Alpine-inspired fantasy kingdom of Ectair, orphaned 17-year-old Klarke Ascher aims to evade arranged marriage by joining the Ascenditures, an elite climbing team that procures rare plants for medicine and food. Klarke is the first Ectairian woman to pursue climbing but, due to sexism, skill alone fails to secure her induction. Misogynist King Adolar offers Klarke and seven male contenders a final, unprecedented challenge: the first two individuals to climb a treacherous mountain will earn Ascenditure status. Despite understanding it as a cunning ploy to permanently eliminate her as a threat to the patriarchy, Klarke can’t refuse. But as her competitors fall victim to the “death sentence” climb, Klarke fears that she will be ostracized for their loss. Budding romance and signs of foul play escalate this tense adventure as Klarke, suspecting a murderous contender of sabotage, unearths morality-testing conspiracies within Ectair. Dabney’s rich storytelling layers lyrical prose, feminist themes, and touches of magic against Ectair’s deepening political unrest and Klarke’s ambiguous origins, building to a gripping, open-ended conclusion. Most characters read as white. Ages 12–up. Agent: Lizz Nagel, Victress Literary. (May)