The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans, #1)
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.
As they try to make things right, things just seem to get worse. Before long, Hattie's life hangs in the balance and Riley must embark on a quest to find the last fallen star before it's too late.
What I loved: The world-building is lush and magical, and the scenarios and characters leap off the page. The story pulls the reader into Riley's world from the start and the pace keeps the reader hooked throughout. The mythology/folklore and groups of magical people were absolutely fascinating, and it all came together in a riveting way. Riley, Emmett, and the other characters met along the way were really compelling. Their motivations, hopes, and dreams shine through their presentation, and it was delightful getting to know them and watch them grow during the story. Riley learns a lot about people, the truths she thought she know, honesty, and trust throughout the book, and her journey was really poignant.
The quest was absolutely wonderful, and I loved the mix of humor in with the serious. For instance, the Ghostr app was truly a delight, which allowed ghosts stuck on Earth to finish up their business to create profiles and be matched with people who could help (though some of those ghosts were definitely up to no good). The pop culture references added to the fun. I also really adored the side characters we meet along the way, particularly the guardian of the library, a cheollima (and whoa, that library!!! I was totally fascinated and loved it!). I also loved the concept of the magic houses, and the way they must be nice to the sin who have developed there, such as always complimenting the door-sin on the way in. This is a world I wanted to live in - I loved it.
Written for the middle grade crowd, some of the topics and events introduce a level of danger (possession, evil spirits, peril, etc.) that might be too much for sensitive/young readers. The book is blended with humor, so it doesn't hit super heavily, but it does have some scary moments for sensitive people. The book would definitely hold appeal for YA readers as well - it's a delightful read, and I can definitely see this series becoming a hit!
Final verdict: With lush world-building and compelling characters, THE LAST FALLEN STAR is a must-read middle grade fantasy. Highly recommend for fans of THE TRIALS OF MORRIGAN CROW, AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS, and CITY OF GHOSTS.