A teen girl must bring together two broken worlds in order to save her nation in this lush, Filipino-inspired young adult fantasy novel from debut author Elisa A. Bonnin.
“Be dauntless, for the hopes of the People rest in you.”
Seri's world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them. As an assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander with a near-mythical reputation, Seri has seen first-hand the struggle to keep the beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People make their homes. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana.
Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts - a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she's ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace.
"Dauntless captures the best parts of every action-packed fantasy—breathtaking scenes of power and victory that push the limits of human tenacity. This is a triumphant tale of courage and self discovery that will make you believe in your own strength." —Kylie Lee Baker, author of The Keeper of Night
In Bonnin's Filipino mythology–inspired fantasy debut, teenage Seri and "the People" struggle to expand their ever-shrinking borders while warriors keep fearsome forest beasts at bay. Seri has left her home to aid Commander Eshai Unbroken, 19, in carrying out their government's border expansion plans. Though initially nervous, Seri finds comfort in her routine training with Eshai and in assisting the valor, warriors who protect the settlements and their citizens from beasts who roam the forests. When an attack's aftermath unearths evidence that it may have been a coordinated strike—something previously unheard of from the beasts—Seri and a small group led by Eshai travel to Vethava, the First City of the People, to report the startling development to their ruling council. There, Seri meets 17-year-old Tsana, who can somehow communicate with the beasts. The closer the two get, and the more Seri uncovers about the attacks, the more she questions her people's slaughter of the beasts and her settlement's history. Though messaging surrounding colonization and an Indigenous group's right to fight back lacks nuance, Bonnin uses lushly described scenery and fantastical creatures to craft an action-packed adventure. All main characters are noted as having brown skin. Ages 14–up.