The Spirit Queen
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Published October 18, 2022
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About The Spirit Queen
The hope spread by the Firebird Song was supposed to change everything. Although nature has returned to balance, the Kingdom of Lyrica suffered for too long, and remains afraid. Worse yet, Princess Calliope has begun to hear sounds–horrible shrieks and cries from across the sea that keep her awake at night–and she seems to be the only one hearing them. How can she lead her kingdom if everyone is so afraid?
When Calliope’s friend Ilsbeth is kidnapped, Calliope and the Bargeboy, Prewitt, embark on a secret quest to save her–but before she can rescue her friend, Calliope must find the confidence to act like the Queen she knows she is destined to be.
This imaginative, heart-warming tale brings truths of our own world to the surface, and shows readers that out of sorrow emerges joy, out of fear arises courage.
THE FIREBIRD SONG was one of my favorite books last year, so when I saw this sequel, I absolutely had to read it. It begins soon after the first book leaves off, with Calliope and Prewitt working together trying to rebuild the kingdom. Only something is still terribly wrong, and Calliope isn’t sure how to fix it. She should have access to the same magic that past queens held, but her only advisor, the Bookkeeper, doesn’t know the particulars about how it works.
I loved getting to revisit some of my favorite characters, namely Calliope, Prewitt, and Ilsbeth, the leader of the Glade Girls. The story follows all three of them with snippets of scenes told from a few other points of view. Ilsbeth might have been my favorite. She’s the girl who won’t stop until things get done, and I love that about her. She’s pragmatic and fierce, and I love that.
THE SPIRIT QUEEN seemed a tiny bit less well-organized than THE FIREBIRD SONG, though. Sometimes I felt like a scene shifted point-of-view too subtly, so I had to go back and reread a few paragraphs in order to be sure I understood what was happening. This problem may have been corrected in the final version of the story– I only read a pre-release copy, so more editing has happened since I read the book myself.
Nevertheless, I still very much enjoyed the story world and the theme about the power of stories, specifically the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we try to lock away and forget and the ways those impact us. Those threads in the book were especially cool.
I also liked its messages about fear and hope. I loved the way those ideas played out in Calliope’s journey. With her magic connected to hope, she had the best emotional arc in the whole book, I think. I loved the way her past memories and fears as well as the current situation she was in fit together. They helped her understand what she had to do to save her people.
On the whole, I enjoyed reading THE SPIRIT QUEEN a lot. I think readers who enjoyed THE UNICORN QUEST by Kamilla Benko or THE RAVEN HEIR by Stephanie Burgis will enjoy this one.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Characters are described as having light brown skin.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Calliope believes she should have access to magic through the power the firebird gave to her ancestors. One advisor encourages her to attempt to wield a powerful magic called Spirit Magic, but another mentor warns Calliope that humans aren’t meant to be a vessel for Spirit Magic.
Several Spirits exist with special powers. One has the power to take away painful memories in exchange for a blue pearl.
Situations of peril.
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