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Annotation: A plucky orphan girl stumbles into a conflict centuries in the making in this thrilling middle grade fantasy about unexp... more
Catalog Number: #256151
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Atheneum
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2021
Pages: 295 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-534-46578-2 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-9176-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-534-46578-7 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-9176-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2020026200
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Kirkus Reviews
A jaded orphan becomes a reluctant hero in order to save herself and those she cares about.Twelve-year-old Lark Granby lives in a boardinghouse run by the cold and guileful Miss Starvenger, to whom she owes a debt. She dreams of one seemingly impossible thing—being free. Lark’s desperation to escape her life of poverty leads her to the Royal Museum, ready to carry out a heist. She ends up with way more than she bargained for when a magical sword, awakened by the young Prince Jasper, chooses her as its owner, thus making her the next Nightingale, the first having been a hero who died while saving their kingdom of Gallant centuries ago. Not only is Lark set against being a hero, especially a martyr, she has resisted getting attached to others. But our young, cynical heroine soon discovers the benefits of forming personal bonds, growing to understand that relationships can help prevent catastrophe, prolong survival, and simply foster joy. Fagan’s novel is well paced and will hold readers’ attention from the get-go. Lark has gumption and, despite her initial reluctance to assume the role and responsibilities thrust upon her, proves the perfect vessel for sympathetic character growth. Significant inclusion of science fiction and political activism elements complement the action in the book and will serve to appeal to a wide audience. The novel features characters of varying skin tones.An entertaining, organic, action-packed combination of adventure, science fiction, and fantasy. (Adventure. 8-12)
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up Twelve-year-old Lark, with light skin and red hair, is an orphaned thief from the Scrag, the slums of Gallant. All she wants is to keep her head down and earn enough money for her stay at Miss Starvenger's Boarding House. That becomes especially hard to do when she accidentally becomes the Nightingale, the fabled champion of Gallant. Gallant's poorest citizens are tasked with the dangerous production of Aether, the valuable resource that powers everything. The workers deal with unsafe working conditions and a phenomenon called ghosting, where people with long-term exposure to Aether gradually cease to exist. In short, Gallant is in desperate need of a hero, and though Lark knows heroes don't live long, she will need to rise to the occasion in order to protect the people she loves and face off against the returned Crimson Knight, the being that led to her predecessor's demise. This novel features a diverse group of individuals with various skin tones, including a Deaf character. The plot touches on a number of timely issues such as labor relations, advocacy, and being one's own hero in a way that is enlightening and inspiring . Lark's journey from thief to reluctant hero to champion is a joy to witness. Readers will applaud her realizations of self-worth and recognizing that she does have what it takes. Departing from the quintessential hero story, Lark is not the solitary protagonist who has to save the day on her own, but learns to depend heavily on her friends and the people around her, which offers a valuable lesson on friendship and community. VERDICT From its unique magic system to its diverse cast of engaging characters, this adventure is a worthwhile read. Myiesha Speight, Towson Univ., Baltimore
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Though a magic sword with the personality of an eager dog steals a lot of scenes, this tale of a reluctant orphan forced to play the hero offers numerous feats of derring-do as well as insight into the importance of making and having friends t to mention a fine climactic battle with a giant robot. Cued that something nefarious is afoot by a sudden uptick in the death rate among the downtrodden workers who refine "aether dust," the essentially radioactive stuff of magic, accomplished young thief Lark has hardly come into possession of a sword once wielded by legendary woman warrior Nightingale than she finds herself cast into a similar role. Fagan slips an unusual element into her tale: Nightingale first used the blade to save the kingdom from a metal monster known as the Crimson Knight. After investigations reveal that the robot is being reconstructed and a second deadly, polluting aether dust factory is secretly under construction, Lark nerves herself to champion the labor union her vanished mother once helped to found against an evil factory owner and his powerful secret ally. Better yet, Lark has allies of her own (besides the irrepressible sword), making any victory not only collective but placing the factory in the hands of the workers. Even readers resistant to more liberal agendas will chuckle at the sword's antics and cheer Lark on.
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Starred Review ALA Booklist (4/1/21)
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 4-7
Lexile: 660L

A plucky orphan girl stumbles into a conflict centuries in the making in this thrilling middle grade fantasy about unexpected heroes, the power of friendship, and one boisterous enchanted sword.

Twelve-year-old Lark is determined to escape her squalid life at Miss Starvenger’s boarding house, but she needs to find the coin to do it. Her grand scheme? To steal her fortune from the Royal Museum.

Unfortunately, her heist goes off the rails, and Lark ends up stealing a magical sword right out from under the nose of Prince Jasper, who’s none too happy to have his plans thwarted. Lark soon discovers that the Sword has a mind of its own, and has chosen her to be the next Nightingale, a fabled hero who must vanquish an ancient evil that is waking after centuries of sleep.

Working alone has its limitations, but relying on others after a lifetime of disappointments feels impossible. Still, Lark will need the help of her boarding house roommates if she wants to defeat the villainous forces that threaten to dismantle everything she holds dear.

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