by Shannon Hale
The beautiful language of this book evokes an appealing fantasy world, with eight realms such as Titor’s Garden, Beloved of Ris, and Song for Evela. The cover shows a beautiful young Asian woman, and many of the details are borrowed from medieval Mongolia. The main character, Dashti, grew up on the steppes, lived in a “gher” and wore a traditional outfit called a “deel.”
In this story, Dashti works as a lady’s maid for Lady Saren, and they are shut in a stone tower for seven years because Lady Saren refused to marry the man her father chose for her. It is a challenge to keep the story lively for the first 100 pages of the book, with two girls locked in a dark tower. After they escape, the story takes some surprising turns, and both girls evolve and grow.
Dashti excels in a traditional (fantasy) art of healing people by signing songs – one of many details that make this book enchanting and lovely.
Readers who enjoyed this book, a Teenreads.com “best book” and YALSA “best book for young adults,” may be fascinated to learn about real historical customs of the Mongols of medieval days, in Daughter of Xanadu.