Albert Whitman & Company | April 2019 | 416 pgs
In the kingdom of Yan, soothsayers are treated like criminals. Magic was outlawed centuries ago and if they are found or if anyone has contact with them they'll be punishable by death. Princess Hesina knew of the consequences should she be seen contacting one, but she has no choice. She believed her father, King Wen, was murdered and in order to find some clues she has to engage the aid of a soothsayer named Silver Iris.
Through the information provided by Silver Iris, Hesina is to find a convict who'll represent her in court. Skeptical at first, Hesina knew she has nothing to lose but to seek help from Akira. Akira proves to be an intelligent investigator aside from his stealing habits; and soon Hesina trust him the same like her advisor-cum-brother, Caiyan. Despite they've no blood relation, Hesina treat him and his twin sister, Lilian, like family.
Aside from the challenges of finding the truth and risk getting caught, Hesina soon discover that there are secrecy and conspiracies hidden in their own court. With so many things at stake, will she be able to find the truth and to seek justice for her father?
This debut YA fantasy by Joan He surprised me on many levels and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I was enamoured by the world-building and even the characterers were an intriguing cast. Hesina may be the main character but I was more intrigued with Akira given his past and his mysterious demeanour. The story also added some interesting aspect of the palace politics of an ancient Chinese dynasty and all these elements made this an intriguing read to this reader. The only little complaint I've is the ending left me wanting for more and I hope the sequel wouldn't be a long wait.
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