The Republic Of Birds

Jessica Miller

The Republic Of Birds
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The Republic Of Birds

Jessica Miller

Olga loves the stories of the old cartographers and pores over their ancient books and maps, trying to unlock their secrets. Sometimes, she thinks she can even feel through the maps- almost see into them-as if by magic.   

But magic is banned in Tsaretsvo, ever since the war with the birds that divided the kingdom, and the powerful magic-wielding Iagas have long been banished. Now, any young girl who shows signs of being an Iaga is whisked away to Bleak Steppe - to a life, so the story goes, of unspeakable punishment.   

When the bird army kidnaps Olga’s sister in a surprise attack on the human kingdom, Olga realises she has to venture into the Republic of Birds to bring her back. But first, she must learn to unlock her magical ability. As her journey takes her into the hidden world of the Iagas and the wilds of the Unmappable Blank, Olga discovers the truth about the war with the birds-and learns just how much is at stake.   

Inspired by Russian folklore, The Republic of Birds is a rich middle-grade fantasy adventure for readers of Karen Foxlee, Jessica Townsend and Philip Pullman.

Review

Jessica Miller’s Elizabeth and Zenobia was shortlisted for the Readings Children’s Book Prize and her latest work, The Republic of Birds, is a wonderful magical adventure story certain to attract great success.

This is a story about sisterly rivalry and the shame that befalls a family as they are made political exiles and are banished to a remote outpost far removed from respectable society. Under the false guise of a promotion, Olga’s father is given a posting to take charge of the growing unease and tension between the humans and their warring adversaries, human-sized birds. Olga’s family are keen to prove themselves and earn their way back to the main capital – all except Olga, who prefers the strange and unorthodox company of their new neighbours.

But not all is well, and Olga is disconcerted by the growing evidence of her own magical ability, a change that, if discovered, would most definitely brand her an outcast and see her shunned even by her family. Nerves are frayed and the greatest tension affecting all is the menacing presence of the birds that keep silent watch over the humans. When an abduction sees Olga’s younger sister taken deep into hostile bird territory, war is inevitable.

This is a defining moment for Olga, as she draws on sisterly love and courage and embarks on a hero’s journey into dangerous, uncharted territory to rescue her sister. It’s an undertaking that will test her endurance and skill, and will also require a punishing sacrifice. Readers will be awestruck by Olga’s daring and her bold, adventurous heart and will rally behind her.


Natalie Platten is the assistant manager and children’s book buyer at Readings Doncaster.

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