4.5 Stars

“Each of us carries the map of our lives on our skin, in the way we walk, even in the way we grow”

This book should win prettiest book of the year award. Not only is the cover stunning, the whole book is beautiful. The back cover, inside cover, title page, section pages, even each individual page has some beautiful artistic element to it. Definitely the prettiest book I’ve seen in a while. I know we are not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but I bought this book without knowing anything about the story. I just loved the cover so much I had to buy it.

As for the story… it is a light and engaging read. It would be best suited to Middle Grade to Young Adult readers. Or those of us grown ups who still love kids books.

Isabella is a cartographer’s daughter. Taught to navigate by the stars, and use ink to map the terrain she sees on paper.  After a mysterious death, and strange phenomena on the island, Isabella’s best friend Lupe heads off alone into the forbidden forest. Isabella wishes to join the search party, and uses her skills as a navigator and mapmaker to gain entry to the group. Traversing dangerous terrain, and coming upon strange happenings and creatures along the way.

I love the twist with her mother’s map. Also the mysterious supernatural bedtime story that she is convinced is true. The plot is simple but flows naturally. The writing is engaging, and the narration really draws you in to Isabella’s world. The Labyrinth part is really engrossing and I could not put the book down until I had passed this part. The fate of Lupe was very unexpected and bittersweet. But also it was a refreshing turn of events as most novels for this demographic would avoid such an end. I would have liked to have known exactly what her lockets letter said though.

While it is a relatively small read, it is a lovely little fantasy that captured me from the start.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month and The Times Children’s Book of the Week.

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.

When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.

But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.