Ulises asked, “How can I look at these maps, see this riddle, and do nothing? They are my brothers.”
Elias reached across the table and flicked aside two shells with a fingertip. The map curled into itself. “It’s bound to be a goose chase. You know that?”
“Or a treasure hunt,” Ulises countered, “and you’ve always been good at those.”
Nineteen-year-old Elias is a royal explorer, a skilled mapmaker, and the new king of del Mar’s oldest friend. Soon he will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an expedition past the Strait of Cain and into uncharted waters. Nothing stands in his way…until a long-ago tragedy creeps back into the light, threatening all he holds dear.
The people of St. John del Mar have never recovered from the loss of their boy princes, kidnapped eighteen years ago, both presumed dead. But when two maps surface, each bearing the same hidden riddle, troubling questions arise. What really happened to the young heirs? And why do the maps appear to be drawn by Lord Antoni, Elias’s father, who vanished on that same fateful day? With the king’s beautiful cousin by his side—whether he wants her there or not—Elias will race to solve the riddle of the princes. He will have to use his wits and guard his back. Because some truths are better left buried…and an unknown enemy stalks his every turn.
Isle of Blood and Stone
by Makiia Lucier
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Makiia Lucier’s intoxicating prose drew me deep into the book, Isle of Blood and Stone. From its first pages Lucier was generous in detailing the world, from its architecture to the cuisine to various traditions making it feel as though I was walking through the streets of del Mar. I had collecting the snippets of details that made up the various islands.
The author’s ability to pay attention to both her main characters and secondary characters was something I noticed immediately. I never felt like any of her secondary characters where strangers, albeit this was from the main characters’ perspective. None of the interactions were glossed over revealing as much about the plot as of the person.
She stood among dust and abandoned feather, and watched him. Dark hair coiled over her ears like ram horns. A belt made of pearls looped around a slender waist. A silver circlet above her brow. Her eyes, the green of the sea before a storm.
Isle of Blood and Stone has a vibe of a classic “whodunit” murder mystery with the atmosphere of a Grecian society. This, to me, was a unique format for a YA fantasy novel. Speaking of which, although marketed under the young adult genre, Isle of Blood and Stone conveys a maturity in the way its characters speak and their actions.
In addition to that, I loved being introduced to the profession of mapmakers, geographers, and navigators. It was quite a swing from the usual YA make up of assassins, soldiers, royalty, and so on. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of information the author provided – the little tidbits of information that showcased the importance of world of geography to a kingdom’s safety.
“I’ve heard many confessions,” she said. “Enough to know that they are not all created equal.”
The story is adventurous in a quiet sort of way – balancing both character development and its plot driven narrative. So, this is one aspect readers should consider before picking up this book. The first book ends on a satisfying note but with enough to hint at upcoming adventures.
Makiia is the author of historical fiction and historical fantasy for young adults. She grew up on the Pacific Island of Guam (not too far from the equator), and has degrees in journalism and library science from the University of Oregon and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Her debut novel, A Death-Struck Year, was called a “powerful and disturbing reading experience” by Publishers Weekly. It was a finalist for Germany’s top book prize for children, the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, as well as Japan’s Sakura Medal, and was named an ABC Best Books for Children Selection by the American Booksellers Association.