cover image The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst

The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst

Jaclyn Moriarty. Levine Querido, $17.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-64614-076-3

When Esther Mettlestone-Staranise—an unexceptional child from an exceptional family—returns to Katherine Valley Boarding School after summer break, she’s distraught to learn that her two best friends have transferred elsewhere. What’s more, the normally peaceful mountains surrounding the academy now teem with malevolent Shadow Mages, and sixth grade teacher Mrs. Pollock is a mean-spirited old lady who grades her harshly. Esther’s initial strategy is to keep her head down and muddle through, but then illness sidelines the undercover Spellbinder tasked with protecting the campus. None of her teachers or fellow students knows, and Esther has been sworn to secrecy, so “ordinary” Esther resolves to do whatever it takes to protect her peers until reinforcements arrive. Scant worldbuilding aside, Moriarty’s standalone book, set in the Kingdoms and Empires universe, largely succeeds thanks to Esther’s earnest, enthusiastic narration. The start meanders, hindering drive, but the tale crescendos to an uplifting close that promotes honesty, bravery, and self-confidence. Ages 10–14. [em]Agents: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management, and Tara Wynne, Curtis Brown Australia. (Mar.) [/em]