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The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim #BookReview

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Graci Kim’s thrilling debut about an adopted Korean-American girl who discovers her heritage and her magic on a perilous journey to save her witch clan family.

Riley Oh can’t wait to see her sister get initiated into the Gom clan, a powerful lineage of Korean healing witches their family has belonged to for generations. Her sister, Hattie, will earn her Gi bracelet and finally be able to cast spells without adult supervision. Although Riley is desperate to follow in her sister’s footsteps when she herself turns thirteen, she’s a saram–a person without magic. Riley was adopted, and despite having memorized every healing spell she’s ever heard, she often feels like the odd one out in her family and the gifted community.

Then Hattie gets an idea: what if the two of them could cast a spell that would allow Riley to share Hattie’s magic? Their sleuthing reveals a promising incantation in the family’s old spell book, and the sisters decide to perform it at Hattie’s initiation ceremony. If it works, no one will ever treat Riley as an outsider again. It’s a perfect plan!

Until it isn’t. When the sisters attempt to violate the laws of the Godrealm, Hattie’s life ends up hanging in the balance, and to save her Riley has to fulfill an impossible task: find the last fallen star. But what even is the star, and how can she find it?

As Riley embarks on her search, she finds herself meeting fantastic creatures and collaborating with her worst enemies. And when she uncovers secrets that challenge everything she has been taught to believe, Riley must decide what it means to be a witch, what it means to be family, and what it really means to belong.

The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1)

Title: The Last Fallen Star | Series: Gift Clans #1 | Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents | Pub. Date: 2021-May-4 | ISBN13: 9781368059633 | Pages: 336 | Genre: Fantasy | Language: English (some Korean) | Source: Netgalley | Unstarred Review

The Last Fallen Star Review

Graci Kim weaves a world of magic hidden amongst the every day in The Last Fallen Star. Unlike other middle grade magic-oriented books where the protagonists and action tends to be set in a school, Riley Oh and her friends get up to mischief in every day locations. Kim hides entrances to Very Important Places in laundromats, karaoke clubs, and in grocery stores, imparting the possibility that anywhere can be fantastical. It’s the type of thing that easily snags the imagination and can send young readers off in happy story-weaving of their own.

The characters are pretty basic, but Kim puts a spin on them which makes them feel refreshing. The sisters (Riley and Hattie) genuinely care for each other in an “I will do anything for you” way that petty squabbles don’t interfere with. Emmett is a character that rides the Goth line, but his propensity for baking delicious treats is a fun flair and his story thread ties up in a sad-yet-happy way. Taeyo was just adorable. He’s an unapologetic nerd, but one that loves and does kindness without asking for anything in return. And, yes, he makes bowties look cool.

There’s enough twists and turns in The Last Fallen Star to keep younger readers on their toes, but this might not be a book that gets very much mileage with older readers–or certified bookworms. The beats stand out as a little too predictable at times, and the life lessons a little too heavy-handed. The writing is smooth and competent enough, but it lacked the magic (pun not intended) that it needed to have life breathed into the tale.

Of the (admittedly few, but working on that!) Rick Riordan Presents line that this reader has had the joy of experiencing, The Last Fallen Star failed to thrill in the same way that the others had. Some stories have an ageless appeal and some are very age-specific. The latter seems to be the case for The Last Fallen Star. So for young readers who want a taste of magic and a dabble of danger as the characters race against the clock, it may be the perfect fit.

Content Warnings:

Teen death (gets rectified), maternal death

Published inFantasy Book ReviewsKids FantasyUnstarred Reviews

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