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Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Release date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pages: 352
Formats: Hardcover, eBook



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?


Note: This review is based on an ARC received from the author in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A Kindle eCopy was purchased for my collection.

The Review

JOURNEY ACROSS THE HIDDEN ISLANDS is an absolutely wonderful, magical, and heartwarming tale that takes readers on an epic, perilous, monster-filled adventure with two sisters and a winged lion. It is exciting and enchanting and amusing and imaginative. It delivers a number of positive messages about conquering fear, growing up, letting go, being understanding, and being responsible. It is a gripping and enthralling story that can and will be enjoyed by readers of any age.

Ji-Lin missed her sister desperately. As much as she loved training to become a warrior so that she could protect Seika, she wished they didn’t have to be separated for so long. So when she first learned that she would get to go home for a visit, she was thrilled. But when she discovered that the reason for the visit was so that she could accompany Seika on the Emperor’s Journey, her excitement turned to anxiety. Because she wasn’t quite sure she was ready for such an important task.

Seika followed every rule and did everything she was asked, unlike her sister, Ji-Lin. But when her father, the emperor, told her that it was time for her to do her duty for Himitsu and take the journey to the island’s guardian to renew their bargain, she wasn’t certain she was adequately prepared to honor tradition. She was told the path would be easy, but she had never been away from home before. And she certainly never had to come face-to-face with a dragon.

Sarah Beth Durst created a story that is delightful and interesting and fun and funny. She introduces two very likable twin sisters with very different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. She tests their fortitude, their ingenuity, their compassion, and their loyalty. And she takes them on a trek through a world that is fraught with danger – but she doesn’t make them go on it alone.

They are joined by Alejan, Ji-Lin’s friend and protector, an incredibly adorable winged lion who is equally as interested in sharing stories about his idol, Master Shai, as he is in talking about his next meal. And by a boy who they can’t decide whether he’s more of an interloper or a valuable traveling companion.

Sea monsters and pirate-like ships, earthquakes and abandoned villages, bargains and betrayals, heroes and princesses, JOURNEY ACROSS THE HIDDEN ISLANDS has it all and then some. And with a few unexpected twists thrown in, it promises to be a thoroughly engaging and immensely entertaining read.

The Rating

About Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst is the award-winning author of eleven fantasy novels for kids, teens, and adults, including Drink Slay Love, the basis for the upcoming TV movie of the same name, airing on Lifetime in 2017. Her latest book for adults, The Queen of Blood, came out in September 2016 from Harper Voyager, and her next book for kids, Journey Across the Hidden Islands, comes out in April 2017 from HMH/Clarion Books. Sarah won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times.

Sarah was born in Northboro, Massachusetts, a small town that later became the setting for her debut novel. At the age of ten, she decided she wanted to be a writer. (Before that, she wanted to be Wonder Woman, except with real flying ability instead of an invisible jet. She also would have accepted a career as a unicorn princess.) And she began writing fantasy stories. She attended Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her ill-mannered cat.