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.

Shannon Hale, Newbery Honor-winning author of Princess Academy, has a website with the intriguing name of squeetus.com.