August 2nd, 2016
Saffron Coulter is walking home from school, and getting teased by a boy. A mysterious stranger comes to her rescue, telling the boy off while stopping to impart a message of hope; hang in there, it gets better. Intrigued, Saffron turns back to talk to the stranger, and sees her stepping through a rift in reality. Impulsively, Saffron follows her through.
She finds herself in Kena, another of the many realities alongside ours. The stranger’s name is Gwen, a worldwalker who came from the same world as Saffron, but now lives in Kena. Saffron finds that she’s stumbled into an unstable political situation, and must stick with Gwen until the magician who opened the way for Gwen can send her home again.
She makes fast friends with Zech, an acolyte of one of the local religions, as Zech uses her own magic to teach her the local language. Saffron finds she’s quickly in over her head, and events will change her both mentally and physically in ways she was never prepared for.
I loved this book. It had great representation all around, the world building was spectacular, and the characters were distinct, diverse, and interesting. Polyamory is the primary relationship/marriage type in Kena, and was represented positively and well. Saffron herself is shown as fluid in sexuality, preferring women and falling in love with a trans character. Characters of many different races and cultures are present, and those differences are rich and interesting. It’s not the same old adventure story–it’s a different one, and one you’ll want to keep following. I really can’t wait for book two, and I’m glad this is a series and not a stand-alone.