About This Book:
Lark Mairen knows this. In her village, the border between the fae and human worlds is as thin as a whisper, and fae trickery is nothing new.
But Lark’s brother, Galin, has just disappeared into the fae realm while racing in the deadly Wild Hunt, and Lark’s only lead is a mysterious fae boy called Rook.
To save her brother, she’ll have to trust Rook—even if it takes her into the dangerous fae kingdom, where she’ll untangle riddles, navigate labyrinths, and face the wicked king himself.
*Review Contributed by Connie Reid, Staff Reviewer*
Very charming dip into fantasy for Middle-Grade
What I Liked: One of my favorite genres is a fantasy involving the fae, and this book is great for middle-grade audiences that may not be familiar with their magically tricky ways. Lark’s family lives on the border with the fae realm. Lark’s family is renowned for breading shadowbred horses that are a part magical and part regular horse. Twice a year humans run the gauntlet using her family’s horses to earn a position on the wild hunt with the Harvest King helping reinforce the magical border and chase dangerous wildkin back to the fae realm. At the end of the hunt, each human participant is granted a faevor.
This story begins with a wild hunt gone wrong. Brambles came up from the ground and the Harvest King fell. Something fell out of his pocket and Lark retrieved it. At the end of the hunt her brother, Galin did not return and the fae are quiet about why the harvest king couldn’t attend the faevoring ceremony.
Soon after, Lark befriends an injured crow and meets a fae boy she calls Rook. He is bound not to speak ill of the fae so she must observe and make conclusions on her own based on what he can tell her. She is sworn to secrecy and given the task to repair the Moon clock. This story then preceded a bit differently than I expected. I figured she would quickly repair the Moon clock and traipse off to the fae realm to save the day.
The author took a lot of care to build Lark’s world and her place in the family and community. Since she didn’t know how to repair the Moon clock it took time for her to learn from the clock master in town. Since she was keeping it a secret, she still had her chores around the house and her place in the family business of raising the shadowbreds. We had the time to feel her frustration and worry for her brother as she notices the magic becoming unsettled and the faevors breaking without knowing what was happening in the fae realm. Her love and worry for Galin is such a large part of the story that it is like we know him as a brother as well even though we don’t meet him till the end.
Final verdict: This organic approach to Lark’s knowledge establishes a very solid world for the plot to unfold. It does move a bit slow in places but once she does make it over to the fae realm she is much more prepared to succeed. Rook teaches Lark how to protect herself from enchantments and she is able to use that in her interactions with the fae. This is a very charming dip into fantasy for middle-grade students that may be new to the common elements found in stories involving the fae. A good precursor for those that will go on to read books like Holly Black’s when they are teens.