Lady of Steel and Straw

Peachtree Teen. Jun. 2024. 432p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781682636657.
Gr 8 Up–Lady Charlotte Sand has a special gift to quiet restless spirits. However, the peace is disrupted by religious tension and Captain Luc de Montaigne who is determined to steal the hearts of the Order of the Guardians, a group of scarecrows, who have been quiet since a change in the ancestral chain. Lady Charlotte proves to be protective and starts a faction war against the captain only to have to deny her fondness for him. Both characters are determined and selfish with their beliefs, but readers will see growth. Charlotte’s army of dead spirits becomes restless and fights against the cause while she and the captain fall deeper in love. This original, dark fantasy will appeal to readers as the scarecrows and stealing of hearts is a refreshing idea. Even though the novel could use a bit more background, it combines politics and religion with an intriguing world where the dead are restless and a revival of an old Order leads to disruption. The lyrical writing will help readers understand the fun, supporting characters and their beliefs. As the characters mature, they soften in their approach and ease up on self-righteousness. Characters vary in skin color.
VERDICT Fans of dark fantasy with memorable characters and worldbuilding will look forward to the sequel of this debut duology. Recommended.

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