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My own Yara, if you are reading this, then something terrible has happened, and you are on your own. To return to the city of Zehaira, you must read out the words on the back of this letter . . . Good luck, my brave girl...

Out in May, 'The Kingdom Over the Sea' is a wondrously rich and dazzling fantasy debut by an incredibly talented new storyteller for children. Zohra Nabi has created a world so vivid, it weaves its way into your dreams (I honestly did have dreams about the city of Zehaira and the mountains and forests beyond). Immersive, majestic and magical, written with a mesmerising storyteller's flow, a sorceress's intoxicating spell, 'The Kingdom Over the Sea' is an absolutely magnificent achievement. I cannot praise it highly enough!

When Yara’s mother passes away, she leaves behind a letter and a strange set of instructions. Yara must travel from the home she has always known to a place that is not on any map – Zehaira, a world of sorcerers, alchemists and simmering magic. But Zehaira is not the land it used to be. The practice of magic has been outlawed, the Sultan’s alchemists are plotting a sinister scheme – and the answers Yara is searching for seem to be out of reach. Yara must summon all of her courage to discover the truth about her mother’s past and her own identity . . . and to find her place in this magical new world...

There are some authors who come along who you just know are going to be new blazing lights in children's fiction, and Zohra Nabi is one of them. I was lucky enough to attend Simon & Schuster's recent MG brunch where she read from the opening and pitched this story of alchemists, jinns, sorcerers and magical adventure. I knew it would be something I'd enjoy - but, oh my! - 'The Kingdom Over the Sea' is even better than I expected. I cannot praise Zohra Nabi's storyteller voice enough; sentences unfurl and weave sumptuous, fantastic images like glorious tapestries. The cover is stunning, offering a glimpse of the richly rendered world inside. The prologue pulls you in and then that's it - you cannot stop - it's so, so addictively readable. From Bournemouth to Zehaira, I was utterly transported with the brilliant Yara - a protagonist as daring, vulnerable and powerful as a Lyra or a Will Stanton. In fact, Zohra Nabi wears her influences well. Her world is as rich as Ursula Le Guin's 'Earthsea', the magic as darkly powerful as in Susan Cooper's 'The Dark is Rising' and her writing as engaging as Phillip Pullman. I cannot wait to see how Tom Clohosy Cole's illustrations will bring this all to life.

Suffice to say, I absolutely loved 'The Kingdom Over the Sea' and it really deserves all the accolades this year. It is perfect for fans of M.T. Khan's 'Nura and the Immortal Palace' and Sangu Mandanna's 'Kiki Kallira' series. But, if you love children's fantasy, then this should be top of your list!

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for my proof copy to review. I will be eagerly awaiting a sequel!

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