Ember Shadows and the Fates of Mount Never is endlessly creative and a delight from beginning to end.
Every child in Ember's village receives a fate card before their twelfth birthday, detailing the course their life will take, from their future profession to the year they'll die.
Ember has always dreamed of being an inventor, but when her own fate card arrives completely blank, she suddenly has no idea what her future has in store. Worse, her younger sister is told she has only months left to live.
Determined to defy their fates, Ember sets off where no one has ever gone before: up Mount Never itself. What follows is a magical adventure that will test Ember at every turn. Can she make it to the top in time to save her sister? And what will she find when she gets there?
This novel has such a fantastic premise. It explores big ideas about fate and choice in a way younger readers will understand and by fascinated by - imagine spending your entire childhood planning to be a baker, only to be told by a card that you'll spend your life fishing instead! By its end, it also celebrates the endless possibilities of life.
Ember is a superb character. She's brave. She's hard on herself. She's single-minded and has to learn how to accept help. She's a great sister. Most importantly of all, she grows naturally over the course of the novel.
I was very lucky to have completed my MA alongside Rebecca King and got a glimpse of this novel in its earliest form. Hans made such an impression that I spent the first few chapters waiting eagerly for him to arrive and he did not disappoint! He was immediately charming and I loved getting to go on this adventure with him. He is also very funny - as is the rest of this book, which made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions.
There was lots of clever world building: Messy Middles, a Garden of Gifts and sinister origami birds (which I could picture so clearly). This would make a brilliant kids adventure film. There's so much going on and some wonderful characters.
I was provided with an advanced copy for review and, as stated above, I do know the writer, but this review is very much my honest opinion on this amazing book! I cannot recommend it enough.