Rebel Skies

Ann Sei Lin

Rebel Skies
Walker Books Ltd
United Kingdom
4 May 2022

Rebel Skies

Ann Sei Lin

A beautifully written and pacy teen fantasy adventure, set in a world of flying ships, sky cities and powerful paper spirits. Inspired by Asian cultures and exploring themes of empire, slavery and freedom.   

Kurara has never known any other life than being a servant on board the Midori, but when her party trick of making paper come to life turns out to be a power treasured across the empire, she joins a skyship and its motley crew to become a Crafter. Taught by the gruff but wise Himura, Kurara learns to hunt shikigami - wild paper spirits who are sought after by the Princess.   

But are these creatures just powerful slaves, or are they beings with their own souls? And can a teenage girl be the one to help them find their voice - and change the course of an empire?



Featuring a vivid mythology, spectacular battles, and an endlessly surprising heroine, Rebel Skies is as intricate, beautiful and startling as one of the paper spirits Kurara brings to life.  Jonathan Stroud     

A magical debut that reads like a Ghibli film, brimming with imagination, action and heart.  Natasha Ngan     

An intricately constructed ode to papercraft and Japanese culture. I fell in love with this world of airships, cumulous whales and floating cities. Pure magic.  Lauren James       


Welcome to Mikoshima, an empire of floating sky cities, cumulous whales and shikigami paper spirits, and the setting of Ann Sei Lin’s magical debut, Rebel Skies. Our hero, Kurara, is a Crafter – a person gifted with the rare ability to make paper come to life – and is recruited aboard a sky ship to hunt rogue shikigami.

The first in a new trilogy, Rebel Skies is a captivating ode to Japanese papercraft and culture with a charm reminiscent of Studio Ghibli films. But what begins as a deceptively simple adventure story quickly unravels to become something else: an imaginative novel that doesn’t shy away from themes of slavery, oppression and discrimination in an increasingly divided society. The question of free will in an empire where shikigami are either bonded to Crafters and expected to obey, or hunted and killed when they go rogue, is a complex one, yet handled by Lin effortlessly.

On top of the novel’s intricate worldbuilding and deeper themes, I was pleasantly surprised by the focus on the bond of friendship over romance. The conflict between different characters’ beliefs, loyalties and motivations feels real and nuanced, setting the stage for a complex cast of characters and making me excited for their fates in the sequels. Part whimsical adventure, part steampunk, Rebel Skies will delight fans of Six Crimson Cranes and Mortal Engines with its depth and imagination. For ages 13+.

Tracy Hwang is from Readings Emporium

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