Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Review of Ink and Stars: A Review of The Girl of Ink and Stars

Every page in the book looks like this!
The Girl of Ink and Stars (known in North America as The Cartographer’s Daughter) is the debut novel by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. The protagonist, Isabella Riosse, daughter of a cartographer, has been confined to a small corner of her island for as long as she’s known. The story reads like a myth from a thousand years ago. There are also strong themes of friendship and bravery running through the story. Every page as you read is highly decorated, making this a visually impressive novel to read. There are also well-drawn maps, implied to be ones by Isabella’s father, which help you to follow the action around the island. I love it when fantasy stories have a map to them, don’t you?

The island of Joya was once a floating island, which moved around the world as it saw fit. However, it has been anchored in one position for as long as Isabella has known. Her small town of Gromera is ruled by a corrupt, oppressive Governor. Other parts of the world are discussed – Afrik, Europa, Amrica – giving the impression that these places are similar yet distinct from our world. Some people may find this lazy, but I think it was a purposeful decision to show the book was set in a world similar to ours. What feels stranger – visualising a floating island in a fantasy world or visualising a floating island next to a continent looking identical to the continent we know as Africa?

Isabella is our protagonist, and her best friend Lupe Adori plays a role in the adventure, too. Lupe is the daughter of the Governor, which isolates her somewhat from the other villagers. Although they are different people, they are also very good friends. Both girls display extraordinary courage over the course of the book. This ties into myth of their island, Arinta, who was a brave heroine herself and whose tale influences the decisions our protagonist makes. I like the fact that the hero from legends happened to be a woman, too.

As always, stories about oppressive government bear with applicability to our modern day. In this case, however, it is too extreme to really relate. The Governor bans anyone from leaving the town of Gromera, except those who disagree with him, who are banished. I have to mention that this story does remind me a little of Moana, but any similarities are purely coincidental – this book came out early 2016!

The fantasy aspects aren’t overt – in fact, apart from the whole floating island thing, they are barely there. Normal human beings who just so happens to live on an island that once floated on the seas. With the names used and the character descriptions, I imagined everyone on the island speaking Spanish. Just a nice little detail that implied they were all speaking in a translated foreign language, yet the author didn’t feel the need to pepper their dialogue with gratuitous words from the language they are supposedly speaking.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves fantasy/adventure stories. It’s aimed at a slightly younger audience than a lot of what I review, so it would be good for young readers interested in this genre. I must beg people to get the UK version, as the US one has a less pretty cover and a more generic name. What’s with this thing of relating female protagonists to what their father does?

1 comment:

  1. I definitely need to bump this up my TBR now! I actually have it sat on my shelf. Wonderful review!
    Cora x ❤️