The Last Fallen Star
Riley Oh can't wait to see her sister get initiated into the Gom clan, a powerful lineage of Korean healing witches their family has belonged to for generations. Her sister, Hattie, will earn her Gi bracelet and finally be able to cast spells without adult supervision. Although Riley is desperate to follow in her sister's footsteps when she herself turns thirteen, she's a saram--a person without magic. Riley was adopted, and despite having memorized every healing spell she's ever heard, she often feels like the odd one out in her family and the gifted community.
Then Hattie gets an idea: what if the two of them could cast a spell that would allow Riley to share Hattie's magic? Their sleuthing reveals a promising incantation in the family's old spell book, and the sisters decide to perform it at Hattie's initiation ceremony. If it works, no one will ever treat Riley as an outsider again. It's a perfect plan!
Until it isn't. When the sisters attempt to violate the laws of the Godrealm, Hattie's life ends up hanging in the balance, and to save her Riley has to fulfill an impossible task: find the last fallen star. But what even is the star, and how can she find it?
As Riley embarks on her search, she finds herself meeting fantastic creatures and collaborating with her worst enemies. And when she uncovers secrets that challenge everything she has been taught to believe, Riley must decide what it means to be a witch, what it means to be family, and what it really means to belong.
Graci Kim's THE LAST FALLEN STAR overflows with intricate mythology, heart, and characters you want to root for. The mythology and magic system center around clans with different abilities and connections to the mother of the three realms, Mago Halmi, and Mago's six goddesses. Each clan has a specific motto that they strive to uphold with their gifts. Part of Riley’s journey is finding where she fits among the clans and within her family and what it means to truly act in honor of their mottos. Through her eyes, we get to see the magic of some of the other clans as well as encountering awesome beings from the Godrealm and Spiritrealm. I’m so happy that this is the first in a series because it’s easy to tell how rich and vast this world is.
Riley and her story have such a sincerity and heart that had me crying over more than one scene. She is fiercely devoted to her family and her friends. Even when she’s put in situations where she could take the easy way out or act out of hate, she finds her back to acting in love, protection, and sacrifice. This isn’t to say she’s perfect, but that she embodies what we often look for in heroes: the strength of character to put action to values and to right wrongs, even if you’re the one who has done wrong or been mistaken. Several of the secondary character shine just as brightly as Riley (in their own unique ways) like Emmett and Taeyo. Even Jennie, usually a bully, has a scene that broke my heart and readied me for a potential redemption arc.
THE LAST FALLEN STAR is simply and undeniably magic. Prepare to be captivated by a journey that asks what it means to belong, what it means to sacrifice, and what it means to be powerful.