book review: Book of Wonders

FC9780062010070title: The Book of Wonders
author: Jasmine Richards
date: Harper Collins; 2012
main character: Scheherazade; “Zardi” “Zee”

Zardi is a 13 year old girl who lives in Taraket, a large city in the mythical kingdom of Arribitha. The land is ruled by Sultan Shahryar, a tyrant who has banned all magic. Young girls in the kingdom marry early so that the sultan doesn’t kidnap them into becoming first a praisemaker and then being hunted and killed by the sultan himself.

Rhidan, with violet eyes and white hair, was adopted by Zardi’s father 12 years ago when he found the child on the banks of the Tigress River. The child was wearing only an amulet to provide a hint of his origins. Over the years, the Zardi and Rhidan become close friends and constant companions.

When her sister is kidnapped by the sultan, Zardi runs away to save her. As she’s sneaking out of the house, she runs into Rhidan who is also running away. For him, it’s to find out more about his origins. The two join forces and set out on an adventurous tale.

The Book of Wonders is an action driven middle grade story. While it has a level of predictability, it also turns a few unexpected corners. I think the strength of the book is the author’s ability to spin a rich story that is cohesive and believable. Rarely do we read action stories with a female lead and even less often does she save herself.

The Book of Wonders, refernced in the title, is has a fleeting reference in the story and it’s made by Oli, a djinni who guards the Windrose. It is a simple leather covered book that is a “library filled with people’s lives”. The purpose of the book as well as what is waiting on the Black Isle will be revealed in future volumes.

Jasmine Richards grew up in London and was the first in her family to attend college. After graduating from Oxford, she began a career in publishing. She is currently a senior editor at Oxford university Press Children’s Books. The Book of Wonders is her first book.

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