Alliana, Girl of Dragons

­Little, Brown. Aug. 2022. 336p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316300353.
Gr 3-7–In Abe’s latest middle grade fantasy, a standalone set in the familiar world of her “Eva Evergreen” series, Alliana of Rivelle wishes to walk the path to her dreams but is stuck in dusty Narashino with her cruel stepfamily. Orphaned at a young age and forced to cater to every laborious demand to appease her ruthless stepmother, Alliana’s miserable life working at the inn is only made bearable by the time she spends with her kind grandmother, who tells her hopeful stories worthy of inspiring the beautiful tapestries they sew together. But when tragedy occurs, Alliana is left alone until she rescues a nightdragon hatchling, who she names Kabo. The bond between the young girl and dragon is especially endearing and adds a fascinating element to this Japanese Cinderella retelling, further enriched by the art in every chapter header. Likewise, Alliana’s other friendships are lovely and magical as she befriends apprentice witch Nela. As they conquer the abyss and its other dangerous creatures, Alliana learns that being brave is the key to unraveling her own great future.
VERDICT An empowering fairy-tale retelling about friendship and chosen family; recommended for middle grade shelves.

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