Publisher: Clarion Books
Source: From author for review
The traditional Emperor’s Journey is meant to be uneventful. But as the princesses Seika and Ji-Lin—twin sisters—travel to pay respects to their kingdom’s dragon guardian, unexpected monsters appear and tremors shake the earth. The Hidden Islands face unprecedented threats, and the old rituals are failing. With only their strength, ingenuity, and flying lion to rely on, can the sisters find a new way to keep their people safe?
I don't read too many MG books, but when approached by the author to read this one I had no problems wanting to read it. First, the cover is stunning and second, I usually enjoy Sarah Beth Durst's work. This is a fun book, but also one that if you are an adult reading it, should keep the age of the characters in mind.
The story is about twin girls born hours apart. One is the heir and the other is to be her protector. Both seem suited to their roles and are loyal to their subjects but miss each other terribly. The girls are called upon to do a traditional journey which will ensure the kingdom to be safe for another generation. At 12, neither feels ready but is willing to do what is needed to be done for the sake of their people. Their father is aloof to the girls and his concern seems limited to the kingdom and the girls struggle to understand. They still want to be honorable and make their father proud so they partake on the journey which brings insight, maturity, and hard choices. It is a true hero's journey which they are all aware. If this isn't enough to make you curious, you have a winged lion, Alejan, who steals the show often. He is their perfect companion and comic relief.
My only niggles about the book really don't bother me in context. At times I found the girls, especially Ji-Lin, to be rash and whiney but put in the age context and given the task they were to preform with very little fore-knowledge, it makes sense. When they meet a boy on the journey and he became the whiney one (again context but the girls also thought he was annoying) both girls seem to grow up and learned to think before acting, or put others before themselves. The ending brings all the pieces of their journey together and it comes to a good conclusion. I really like how things were solved.
I give this book 4 stars. I think adults need to remember who this is written for and I think that they will enjoy the journey and how the girls become more mature. I think kids will be enthralled with the journey, the mythological creatures, and the dragons (okay, I liked those parts too!). I recommend it to those that want to start kids on bigger books and anyone who likes an adventure.