I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on April 10th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Ulises asked, "How can I look at these maps, see this riddle, and do nothing? They are my brothers."
Elias reached across the table and flicked aside two shells with a fingertip. The map curled into itself. "It's bound to be a goose chase. You know that?"
"Or a treasure hunt," Ulises countered, "and you've always been good at those."
Nineteen-year-old Elias is a royal explorer, a skilled mapmaker, and the new king of del Mar's oldest friend. Soon he will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an expedition past the Strait of Cain and into uncharted waters. Nothing stands in his way...until a long-ago tragedy creeps back into the light, threatening all he holds dear.
The people of St. John del Mar have never recovered from the loss of their boy princes, kidnapped eighteen years ago, both presumed dead. But when two maps surface, each bearing the same hidden riddle, troubling questions arise. What really happened to the young heirs? And why do the maps appear to be drawn by Lord Antoni, Elias's father, who vanished on that same fateful day? With the king's beautiful cousin by his side-whether he wants her there or not-Elias will race to solve the riddle of the princes. He will have to use his wits and guard his back. Because some truths are better left buried...and an unknown enemy stalks his every turn.
I love anything with maps, exploring and adventure! It really brings me back to my childhood and everything I loved as a kid. The promise of those such things in the blurb for Isle of Blood and Stone grabbed my attention and I can honestly say I had a lot of fun reading this one!
The story revolves around the events that happened 18 years ago when there was an attack on a party of people that included two young princes, the Royal Navigator Antoni, and so many others. Most everyone that day was poisoned and those who weren’t disappeared and were believed dead, murdered by another kingdom and then subsequently started a war. That is until maps are found made with a skill and likeness of a certain presumed dead navigator that could only have been made more recently than the previous tragic event. Determined to find answers, King Ulises, Elias, and Mercedes embark on a secret mission to find out what happened to the family they lost that day.
As these three discovered clues hidden in the map, they find themselves on a adventure through spooky woods haunted with spirits, dangerous waters infested with sea serpents, and more! The more answers they uncovered the more they realized the real dangers lurked much closer than they could have expected. I loved uncovering all the little secrets and clues along the way and even though I tried to piece together everything myself, there was quite a bit that surprised me!
I really enjoyed the characters and the relationships they had with each other. They were all so selfless and compassionate. I especially enjoyed Mercedes as a strong and smart heroine. There is a touch of romance that brews between her and Elias in that perfect slow burn I love. There is also the spunky Reyna, a 9 year old future mapmaker and explorer who doesn’t let being a girl stop her from her dreams, despite what others may say. She was my very own hidden gem of the story and probably my favorite of them all.
All in all, I found myself completely swept away by this story! It’s not particularly fast paced or filled with action like I thought it might be but I found myself completely okay with that. It kept my attention with all of its mysteries to unravel and was never boring. I had a lot of fun reading this book and I think many others will also find a great adventure to partake in!