Today I’m featuring THE VERDIGRIS PAWN, a timeless middle grade fantasy full of danger, betrayals and intrigue! Check out my review, along with Alysa’s list of top ten addictions and a giveaway of the book!
The Verdigris Pawn by Alysa Wishingrad
Published by HarperCollins on July 13, 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Cover Artist: Júlia Sardà
A boy who underestimates his power . . .
A girl with a gift long thought lost . . .
A Land ready for revolution . . .
The heir to the Land should be strong. Fierce. Ruthless. At least, that’s what Beau’s father has been telling him his whole life, since Beau is the exact opposite of what the heir should be. With little control over his future, Beau is kept locked away, just another pawn in his father’s quest for ultimate power.
That is, until Beau meets a girl who shows him the secrets his father has kept hidden. For the first time, Beau begins to question everything he’s ever been told and sets off in search of a rebel who might hold the key to setting things right.
Teaming up with a fiery runaway boy, their mission quickly turns into something far greater as sinister forces long lurking in the shadows prepare to make their final move—no matter what the cost. But it just might be Beau who wields the power he seeks . . . if he can go from pawn to player before the Land tears itself apart.
This book is not your typical middle grade fantasy; not only does it have a timeless, almost classical feel, it also has the complexities of an epic fantasy that you’d expect from YA or even adult books. But the story never gets so overcomplicated that a middle grade reader would feel out of their depth. In fact, I think middle grade fantasy readers will find themselves engrossed in the quick-moving plot and they’ll be rooting for these endearing characters, even when they’re making mistakes. Beau is the type of character you can’t help but love. He’s the heir to the throne, but he’s never been pampered; in fact, he’s spent his entire life in fear of his father. But, while he hasn’t exactly lived a luxurious life in the palace, he has been sheltered, and he has no idea about the abuses that the people of his kingdom have been suffering. When his eyes are opened, he’s thrown into a real-life strategy game that he isn’t sure he can win. There are numerous twists and turns in the story, so Beau is never quite sure who to trust (and neither is the reader!). Kids who enjoy fantasy will love the touches of magic to the story and fans of adventure will find the danger that Beau and his friends run into thrilling. And it all leads to an utterly satisfying action-packed ending! What more could you ask for?
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Alysa Wishingrad once had a whole different career working in theater, tv, and film, but nothing could be better or more exciting than writing stories and crafting worlds for middle-grade readers. 8-12 year-olds are truly some of the smartest, most open, and inquisitive people around, and Alysa is dedicated to helping them hold onto that magic as they grow up.
When she’s not writing she’s probably out walking her two very demanding rescue dogs, who came all the way from Alexandria, Egypt to share their shedding fur and love. Or she might be trying to figure out what to make for dinner – again! – for her family. But, if she’s very lucky, she’s out at the theater getting lost in a wonderful story.
Her debut, THE VERDIGRIS PAWN, will be published by Harper Collins July 13, 2021
Alysa’s Top Ten Addictions
1. My Morning Cup of Milky Tea
I never much cared for black tea, but I also always found the caffeine in coffee to be too much for me. And so I was always a decaf drinker – not exactly the most bracing way to wake up. But a good friend, who’s from South Africa, introduced me to the joys of tea. Now I cannot begin my day without a cup, or an entire pot, of Joko black tea with steamed oat milk. It tastes unlike any other black tea and gives you a mellow caffeine bump. Then in the afternoon or early evening, a cup of rooibos with oat or almond milk is the perfect way to shift gears.
I love it. Hard cheese, gooey cheese, stinky cheese. Goat, cow, sheep. Even some of the nut cheeses you can find these days make me happy. There’s hardly a cheese I’ve met that I couldn’t develop a lasting love for. Cheese addiction, it’s real.
3. Fresh Cut Flowers
They don’t have to be fancy, in fact tulips are some of my favorites to have around the house. But even in the dead of winter, I like to have flowers in a vase on the table. There’s something so reifying about having flowers around. The color, the scent, and yes, even the impermanence of their beauty.
4. Words with Friends
I’ve been playing matches against a friend of mine for going on ten years now. Maybe longer. And seven times out of ten he wipes the floor with me. But there’s nothing like winning those occasional games against him. I’ve also noticed that my ability to win matches is in direct correlation to where I am in my writing at that time. When I’m working well and in the flow I can find those words in the game. But when I’m stumbling around in the dark trying to find the through-line of a story, chances are high that I’m going to lose big time.
My parents raised me to meditate, which doesn’t mean that I liked or appreciated it at the time. But it’s a practice that sits deep in my bones, it’s something my brain and my body both need even if there are periods where I forget to, or just don’t want to make time for it.
6. Coffee Ice Cream
For me, coffee ice cream is the only real reason to eat ice cream. I mean it’s cold, creamy and delicious, but coffee is the real reason I’m there. Which is funny considering I’m not much of a coffee drinker (see #1). The only way I know to improve on coffee ice cream is to add a scoop of black raspberry ice cream to the cone or cup. And maybe a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Tossing on a few roasted almonds doesn’t hurt either.
7. Reading My Horoscope
I know. I know. It’s probably not a real thing, but I like it. I especially like reading the, “Today is Your Birthday” horoscopes on my birthday. I share the day with a good friend and have been sending it to him for years now. I think he might worry if I ever stopped sending it.
8. Gravel Crunchers
You know, those costume dramas on Masterpiece theater and BBC? I am game for anything historical, highly costumed or set in a time and place at least thirty years in the past. I’m there for it and will forgive a multitude of plotting sins as long as the costumes and set pieces are well done.
9. A Bit of Salty with My Sweets
I’m not sure it counts as an addiction, if I have something sweet I need a little salt chaser. So, what does that look like? Pretzels with ice cream (coffee, of course – see #6), chocolate chip cookies baked with just a pinch of salt on the top (try the BA Best Ever Browned Butter Chocolate Chip cookies and get back to me), or lemonade and potato chips. It’s a match made in heaven.
10. Take-Out on a Friday Night with My Family
I love to cook. The act of making a meal is one of unconditional love, and one that I cherish doing for my family. But I also hate to cook, or more specifically, I hate that there’s the ‘what to cook for dinner’ conundrum every single night. By Friday I am out of ideas, uninspired and want nothing to do with creating a meal. Take out on Friday nights is always the reset we all need. It clears away the cobwebs of the same old same old leaving me refreshed on the weekends and ready to dive back into the kitchen for a big old weekend cooking fest.
Oh, I totally feel Alysa when she talks about that “what to cook” feeling—it’s the worst! I’ve never been a big fan of cooking, and I think at least half of that is the process of figuring out the meals. I recently started using Hello Fresh, which has helped me immensely for this very reason!
Alysa has been generous enough to offer up a finished copy, along with a bookmark and a sticker as a giveaway! Enter to win by following the instructions on the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway is open anywhere The Book Depository ships (INT).
Another great way to get the sticker and bookmark featured in the giveaway: Pre-order the book before release on July 12th and fill out Alysa’s pre-order giveaway form!
great review and fun addictions
Thanks for stopping by!
This book was already high on my TBR–I love reading fantasy and with all the twists and unknowns, it will be fun and exciting reading time.
Glad to hear this one’s still on your radar!
Been wanting to read this one. Sounds so good!
It is! I hope you love it!
I am definitely keen to read this, since I love fantasy and stories of good versus “sinister forces”!
This story definitely has all of that!
Thanks for stopping by!
A mix of salty and sweet sounds SO good right now.
Lovely review, Nicole! That’s great it felt like a very intricate fantasy that older readers would read, but it never got confusing or bogged down the MG audience.
I’m one of the few people who doesn’t love the salty/sweet mix thing, especially with my chocolate. But I’m definitely the minority with that one.
I do like a bit of salty with the sweet. I definitely think “salted caramel” has had a positive effect on American life.
Ha! Yes, for sure.
Take-out Friday night sounds like a good plan–growing up we were always in a rut of Beef Stroganoff and other mystifying things my mother made, convinced that sour cream always improved everything!
I do Hello Fresh meals, and I will say that they are quite reliant on sour cream. I’m surprised how many sauces you can make with it!
Yep. Definitely adding this one to my TBR, haha.
Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? ?
I’ve never heard those fancy BBC, etc., television costume dramas called “gravel crunchers” before! It seems spot on!
I haven’t read horoscope stuff (pretty much) since I was around 10 in grade school and there were horoscope books that always looked so enticing and full of ancient truths at the drugstore. I think I preferred that best-selling book about how your preferences about various colors could tell everything there is to know about you and help you gain incredible insight. Maybe it was issued originally in hardback, but what I read was a mass-market paperback, and it came complete with cool cards imprinted with colors so you’d be better able to decide how you wanted to answer the questions. And that was years before we knew about colors seasons (“Are you an autumn?,” etc.). We were so much more innocent then….
This sounds so good! Thanks for the Giveaway, I love that its INT and hopefully I win!
When I was little there were people named Taylor in my town who made “Taylor-Made Ice Cream” that they sold at an old-fashioned local drugstore. The ice cream came in big plastic tubs. There were two choices of flavors–mocha and peach. I always hated the peach, and I always have hated and always will hate the flavor of peaches. But “mocha” was this strange and mysterious flavor from a world of sophistication and beauty. I wholeheartedly approve of all things mocha, and those who love it are truly people of taste and discernment.
I can’t imagine putting aside my thoughts or worries enough to meditate. Anyone who can manage that is pretty lucky!
Yes, I’d like tulips around the house, also! There’s nothing better than those famously non-fancy tulips, so simple, so modest.
This has such a lovely cover, and it sounds like a fun book!
With cheese, I highly recommend the tins of brie and camembert with far-distant expiration dates! Firm, fresh brie and camembert are the best! No stinkiness, no rot and ooze….
The milk-in-tea side of life is something I can’t quite intellectually understand, like the size of the universe or people wearing jeans or sequins.
This sounds like a good MG novel, but I definitely feel that a good MG or YA novel will always really be for all ages!
I like it when stories feel ageless and classic like this–timeless!
Never-pampered throne-heirs are a big plus in truly heroic protagonists!
With the twists and turns, I’ll never be able to figure it all out on my own–I am so not good at being cleverer than authors!
I commented on how I can’t out-think authors with twists and turns and mysteries, and the comment doesn’t yet appear (if ever) because my mouse madly double-clicks in nano-seconds, causing problems….
It seems like being an heir to a throne isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be!–thank goodness I don’t have this problem!
This book probably shows that you shouldn’t underestimate yourself–you can succeed against the baddies!
I followed your instagram link and followed “juliasardaportabella” since I really like the cover-artist’s work. The cover is really fun and cool!
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