The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

“A myth is something that happened so long ago people like to pretend it’s not real, even when it is.”

This novel won the Waterstones 2017 Children’s Book Prize. I kept seeing it in the shop, but for some reason took forever to actually buy it. The cover art is so beautiful, it’s a vibrant orange with blue foil picking out the details. 

From the blurb:

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.

Isabella lives on the island of Joya. Her father is a cartographer, and she dreams of the day when she too will be able to travel the world, mapping new countries. 

Joya used to be a floating island, but legend has it that the island became anchored when Amarinta tried to destroy the demon Yote, and became trapped in the tunnels of hell.  

Since Governor Adori arrived at the island 25 years ago, the people of Joya have been banned from leaving the island, and their village was segregated from Tehran rest of the island. No one knows why. 

On the day of Lupe, the Governor’s daughter’s birthday, a young girl from Isa’s school goes missing. Lupe is Isa’s best friend, but Isa cannot understand her behaviour when Cata is found dead.  Isa tells her friend that she is selfish and rotten, and leaves Lupe alone.

Then Lupe goes missing into the forbidden territories. Isa disguises herself as a boy to join the search for her, and help map the now unknown parts of the island. Will Isa be able to find her friend, or will she inadvertently lead the villagers into danger? 

This was such a lovely story. The writing is poetic and full of beautiful imagery. The writer doesn’t shy away from writing about difficult subjects like death, grief, or poverty despite this being a book for younger readers.  I gave it 4/5 stars on Goodreads.

If you are looking for a great book for younger readers, or yourself, this is a lovely quick read at only 222 pages. 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


Stephani Xxx


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