by Elise Edmonds
Elina Faramar finally leaves her family’s flying carpet shop when her father reluctantly agrees she can take magic lessons in nearby Kamikan. Urban life promises adventure, and new friend Kara shows her the sights. However, Elina soon sees a darker side of life: a foreigner arrested at the circus, forbidden schoolhouse rooms with odd comings and goings, and unsociable pupil Simeon’s shady deals at the docks. Everything seems connected to the volatile neighboring country of Pallexon, but no one will tell her why. When Elina and Simeon develop a magical mind link, he seems close to confiding in her. But an unexpected voyage takes Elina and Kara away from answers and towards unknown danger in Pallexon. Alone in a strange country, with no identity papers, the situation rapidly turns into a nightmare when Kara is mistaken for a spy. With her own freedom at stake, Elina must rely on her wits and magic to save her friend and unravel the secrets of Pallexon.
“A delightful, magic-filled adventure!”
“I loved every aspect of this book. The characters, the descriptions, the storyline, and the world-building (especially that magic system!) Everything flows together into a gripping narrative that kept me turning the page until I reached the end. Elina especially made this story shine–she’s a strong heroine who struggles to overcome her flaws. I loved watching her grow over the course of the story.”
“The unique world of the story is it’s best part–the magic, the names, the cultures, and every other detail really set the story apart.”
CIR: What inspired this story?
EDMONDS: I’ve always been a fan of both children’s fantasy books and school stories – long before Harry Potter came into the world. I grew up on Enid Blyton and Narnia. So writing a fun, immersive fantasy story full of adventure but also including school and coming of age themes is basically me writing the book I wanted to read as a kid! It’s got a bit of everything I enjoy reading about.
CIR: What was your favorite part of writing this story?
EDMONDS: My favorite thing in young adult novels is watching characters grow up. I love how Elina turns from a naive slightly-entitled teen, into a young woman who is resourceful, loyal and courageous. She becomes more aware of the world around her and her place in it, and starts to think about what she can do to help others, rather than what the world owes her.
CIR: What was the hardest part of writing this story?
EDMONDS: I think the hardest chapter research-wise was the one where Elina gets to see over a large ship for the first time. I suddenly realized I had to describe the ship in quite a bit of detail. But not only did I have to learn about the ship, because the book is from Elina’s point of view, I had to use terms that she would be familiar with.
CIR: Who is your favorite character and why?
EDMONDS: Elina is always my favorite. I know that’s kind of boring, but I chose my main character because she was someone I was interested in reading about. I wouldn’t say she’s meant to be me, but she has characteristics in common with me: being keen to leave home, a longing to travel and see some excitement, but quite naive about the big wide world. She has goals which teen me would have identified with strongly.
CIR: What other books, movies or shows might you compare to this story?
EDMONDS: If you take the world of Aladdin, the whimsical nature of Diana Wynne Jones, the magic of Harry Potter, and mix it all up with a strong female lead – you’ll get my book!
CIR: When do we get the sequel?
EDMONDS: A sequel is in progress! I always knew there would be a sequel, because I had plans for Elina to visit certain places which didn’t fit into the first book. And whilst the main plot is tied up in book one, there are a couple of questions the reader is probably asking, which the second book needs to answer.
NOTE: There are a few instances of mild swearing and reference to violence which may not be appropriate for all readers.