The Lost Soul Atlas

Zana Fraillon

The Lost Soul Atlas
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The Lost Soul Atlas

Zana Fraillon

Loyalty is tested, and a cruel twist of fate leads to an act of ultimate betrayal in this epic story that spans a city, a decade, and the divide between life and death itself.

Twig is all alone after his dad goes missing. But when he meets Flea, a cheerful pickpocket, the pair become fast friends. Together, Twig and Flea raise themselves on the crime-ridden streets, taking what they need and giving the rest to the even-poorer. Life is good, as long as they have each other.

But then Twig wakes up in the Afterlife. With just a handful of vague memories, a key, a raven, and a mysterious atlas to guide him, he tries to piece together what happened, and to find his way home…

A powerful story of hope and friendship from the award-winning author of The Bone Sparrow.    

Review

The Lost Soul Atlas takes the classic story of the journey through the underworld and flips it. What if, instead of a hero’s journey through the underworld to save a lost soul, the lost soul is the one on the journey to save the hero? And what if the one who needs saving, in this metaphor, is everyone who has ever lived?

Twig’s afterlife is a fraught one (though not without comic relief in the form of his hilarious, wise-cracking raven-skeleton guardian), and it’s no surprise when we visit the memories of his time alive to find his life as a street kid in a dangerous city was just as treacherous.

The Lost Soul Atlas is everything we have come to expect from Zana Fraillon – a story about amazing, tough kids who have been dealt a terrible hand by life but who refuse to have their spirits broken – but it’s also something new: a rich and telling fantasy. The afterlife in The Lost Soul Atlas is honestly as full and robust as anything Philip Pullman has ever written, and I can only hope this is the start of Fraillon’s career as a fantasy author.

Fraillon has always had a beautiful command of language, and a topic as delicate as the afterlife – especially in a children’s book – could, with anyone else’s words, have become too scary or, even worse, too mundane. Instead, in Fraillon’s hands, it’s a work of art, perfectly balancing imagination and reality. Scary, sad and funny all at once, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. For ages 10+.


Dani Solomon is the assistant manager at Readings Kids.

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