The Penderwicks meets Howl’s Moving Castle in this thrilling middle grade fantasy adventure about a trio of royal siblings who unlock a long-forgotten magical language in their bid to reclaim their stolen throne—from Ember and the Ice Dragons author Heather Fawcett. Perfect for fans of Kelly Barnhill and Robert Beatty.
Forced into exile on an enchanted, moving island, ex-princess Noa Marchena has two missions: reclaim her family’s stolen throne and ensure that the dark powers her older brother, Julian, possesses don’t go to his head in the process. But between babysitting her annoying little sister, Mite, and keeping an eye on the cake-loving sea monster that guards the moving island, Noa has her hands full.
When the siblings learn that their enemies are searching for a weapon capable of defeating Julian—whose legendary spell weaving is feared throughout the kingdom—once and for all, they vow to get to it first. To everyone’s surprise, the key to victory turns out to be a long-lost magical language—and only Noa can speak it.
But what if by helping her brother, Noa ends up losing him?
Two years prior to this tale's beginning, the Marchena children dramatic Julian, then 16; practical Noa, then 11; and mischievous Maita, "Mite," then five mourn the death of their mother, the queen, on the Florean Archipelago. Soon after her death, they must flee for their lives as royal advisor Xavier Whitethorn stages a coup d' tat. In a world with nine magical languages, multilinguals are deemed "dark mages," prone to villainy; Julian is "the only person in the world possibly in history who could speak all nine," making it easy for Xavier to paint him as dangerous. Two years later, while living on enchanted moving island Astrae, the siblings strive to reclaim their inheritance. Strategist Noa, the only magicless Marchena, is also determined to preserve Julian's goodness, even as Julian edges toward ruthlessness in his quest for the Lost Words, "magical languages that disappeared a long time ago." A sly, cake-eating sea serpent; an elderly dragon familiar; and vain otters who can "move in and out of death" make for an endearing supporting cast, while the siblings, with their distinct personalities and inevitable squabbles, make for an authentic focal point. Fans of Eva Ibbotson and Diana Wynne Jones will appreciate Fawcett's (Ember and the Ice Dragons) well-paced, wholly imaginative middle grade romp. Ages 8 12. \n