The Twelve by Cindy Lin

Published July 2nd 2019 by HarperCollins

Usagi can hear a squirrel’s heartbeat from a mile away and soar over treetops in one giant leap. She was born in the year of the wood rabbit, and it’s given her extraordinary zodiac gifts. But ever since the mysterious, vicious Dragonlord hunted down her parents and all those with zodiac powers, Usagi has been very careful to keep hers—and those of her rambunctious little sister, Uma—a secret.

But when Uma grows too bold with her powers, she is captured by the Dragonguard. Usagi barely escapes, and does so only with the help of the mysterious Heirs of the Twelve, a mystical group of skilled warriors who once protected the land.

As new mysteries unfold, Usagi must decide who she stands with and who she trusts, as she takes on deadly foes on her path to the elusive, dangerous Dragonlord himself.

REVIEW:

Her ears pricked at the approach of footsteps. She turned to see Tupa, his golden-brown eyes full of sympathy.

“I may only be an Heir, but I could teach you a thing or two,” he told her. “I’ll help you, Rabbit Girl.”

The Dragonlord’s brutal conquest of Midaga saw the end of the reign of the Twelve, warriors who protected Midaga with their zodiac powers. With an iron fist, the Dragonlord wiped out the order of the Twelve and sought to purge the land of all who posses zodiac powers, as well as taking full control of the island and plunging most of the people into poverty.

Usagi, her best friend Tora, and little sister Uma struggle every day to stay alive, after their parents were killed by the Dragonguard because of their powers. Now the three children must keep their own powers hidden and try to survive on their own. But when Uma and Tora are taken by Dragonguard, the true intentions of the Dragonlord start to be revealed and Usagi realizes that she must save them. With the help of the three last Heirs of the Twelve, Usagi must learn to control her powers so that she can face the Dragonlord, and save her sister.

The Twelve is written with exciting action sequences and lovable characters through and through. The story is packed with history and lore unique to Lin’s world and delivers an expanse of information that pushes Midaga into a true mythology. I love how she takes something like the zodiac and centers her plot around that, creating depth and turning the zodiac into something more than just star signs.

Being the first book of presumably two, I was left with curious suspense with the unresolved conflict and the addition of new, crucial information right at the end. With traitors and heroes alike, the story kept up an page-turning climax. While there are several chapters with less action that were a little slower, all in all I’m excited to read the second book to find out what happens to Usagi and her friends.

This book is perfect for readers who like fantasy, mystical powers, and mythology. It is written at a middle grade level with no sexual interactions or references and no coarse language. There is a few instances of kidnapping and the mention of the Dragonlord’s brutal killing of those with zodiac powers, but it is never overly violent or descriptive.

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