It’s Into Thin Air drenched in fantasy with some bonus high-altitude make-outs.
This is the first in a sweeping and action-packed debut fantasy duology loosely inspired by the early climbers of Mt. Everest-perfect for fans of Cindy Pon and Alison Goodman.
Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor's royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.
But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin-not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected-for his next expedition. This is Kamzin's chance to prove herself-even though River's mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what's most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.
The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected-or prepared for-with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions-while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.
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A lush adventure filled with magic, myth, and monsters. Even the Darkest Stars will sweep you off your feet, steal your heart somewhere between the mountains and sky, and leave you breathless.
A deeply satisfying feast for fantasy lovers...I fell in love with this book from the earliest pages and have left the gnawed-off pieces of my heart scattered across the Aryas.
Cinematically vivid…immersive and absorbing.
Fawcett brings snow-capped mountains—and their baleful secrets—alive in this magical, atmospheric debut.
An utterly inventive and wholly original debut.
Gr 8 Up—As youngest daughter of the village elder, 17-year-old Kamzin is being trained to become a shaman, a conjurer of magic. She wants more than anything to be an explorer. When the young, ruggedly attractive Royal Explorer, River Shara, descends upon her village in a hot-air balloon, the world shifts for Kamzin, and sparks fly between the two. In this YA fantasy series opener, complications ensue, and Kamzin embarks on an expedition to seize the magic talisman at the top of Raksha—a mountain from which no explorer has ever returned alive. If they fail to claim it, the dormant kingdom of witches will rise again and destroy all the villages, including Kamzin's. To prevent this, the two heroes and their team begin climb through pelting hail, avalanches, and freezing winds. They must also contend with the presence of hostile mountain ghosts. Unknown to the party, River has made a secret contract with a fire demon; each time he invokes its power, he must give a piece of his soul to the smoldering creature. Kamzin reels from her strong physical attraction to River, which conflicts with her inner voice that warns he is deceiving her on some level. VERDICT This book will appeal to readers who do not mind ambiguity in their characters. A good choice for most YA fantasy shelves.—Denise Kim, Bronx High School of Science, NY
Debut author Fawcett offers an Everest-inspired fantasy.Kamzin's world boasts magic in the form of inhuman witches, defeated some 200 years ago, and small dragons domesticated for the illumination cast by their glowing bellies. Shamans routinely cast spells; some fortunate souls, like Kamzin and her perfect older sister, Lusha, have familiars. River Shara, the young Royal Explorer, has come looking for a guide to climb the never-before-scaled Raksha in search of a magical talisman, and he ignores Lusha's charms for often overlooked Kamzin, whose climbing ability and endurance are almost magical. The novel follows the often harrowing journey to Raksha; Fawcett's descriptive skills bring the icy terrain to life and make what could be an endless trek largely compelling reading. She also ably combines magic with details borrowed from Nepalese life and language; characters wear chubas (Nepalese coats) and fight fiangul (fictional monsters). While the characters clearly live in an Asian-inspired world and seem to be Asian (physical descriptions are limited), this is a thin layer over the more developed fantasy elements and strongly evoked landscape. With a dash of romantic entanglement, a rich original mythology, and a sizzler of a twist at the end, this duology opener will appeal to fans of femalecentric fantasy by such authors as Leigh Bardugo and Sarah Maas. (Fantasy. 12-16)