"Nina is a Lipan girl in our world. She’s always felt there was something more out there. She still believes in the old stories. Oli is a cottonmouth kid, from the land of spirits and monsters. Like all cottonmouths, he’s been cast from home. He's found a new one on the banks of the bottomless lake. Nina and Oli have no idea the other exists. But a catastrophic event on Earth, and a strange sickness that befalls Oli’s best friend, will drive their worlds together in ways they haven’t been in centuries. And there are some who will kill to keep them apart."

Written by Sophie

Another YA book, also from the 2022 Ursula K. le Guin Prize shortlist that I’m making my way through, and I really enjoyed this. Little Badger is a natural storyteller, from a culture of storytellers. I loved the characters, both the human and Animal People ones, and the plight to save Oli’s best friend Ami (the absolute sweetest little toad) felt real. I loved the traits the Animal People retained whenever they were in their false (human) forms, they were well-considered!

Some urgent current themes such as climate change, losing cultural heritage, and the mega-rich getting mega-richer are handled seriously, with a light touch. The relationships felt real to me, and I just love it when folks treat one another with kindness and respect. I feel a little skeptic about the way Nina used her voice-activated camera and phone, but that’s probably because I never use voice-activated anything on my phone (let alone in my house).

All in all, a really enjoyable read. I will be checking out Little Badger’s previous book Elatsoe later on in the year for sure.

One last thing: this book is so beautifully made!

N.B.: This review was first published on Instagram by @sophie_bookseller

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