Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly

Published September 3rd 2019 by Greenwillow Books

There are stories of extraordinary children who are chosen from birth to complete great quests and conquer evil villains.

This is no such story.

Sometimes, you are an ordinary child.

Sometimes, you have to choose yourself.

This is the story of Lalani Sarita, a twelve-year-old girl who lives on the island of Sanlagita in the shadow of a vengeful mountain. When she makes a fateful wish that endangers her already-vulnerable village, she sets out across the distant sea in search of life’s good fortunes. Grown men have died making the same journey. What hope does an ordinary girl have?


Every time, Sailing Day claims the lives of the bravest and strongest men in the village. Every time, men sail away from Sanlagita in search of Isa, a rumoured island where all good fortunes dwell. And every time, nothing returns except the splinters of there ships. No one has survived the journey across the Veiled Sea.

Twelve-year-old Lalani wants nothing more than to help her village. But when a chance encounter threatens her entire island and her mother falls fatally ill, she has but one choice ahead of her: Find the island of Isa, where all good fortunes dwell.

What if she reached Isa?

Yes, she was a twelve-year-old girl.

Yes, men had died before her.

But – what if, though?

This story is full of extraordinary mythology. The fantastical creatures fit right in to this world and strangely, they don’t feel out of place. Lalani is an extremely lovable character right from page 1 and her journey was more than enough to keep me interested.

The crazy thing about mythology is that not every creature or character has a history. You don’t know where they come from or how they got there when you read mythological tales, and the same is true for this story. Every creature has its own unique personality and traits, and slip in and out of the story seamlessly even with the lack of explanation.

This is best suited for middle grade readers. There is no coarse language or sexual interactions, and the violence is minimal.

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