by Graci Kim
Publication: May 4, 2021
Series: Gifted Clans #1
**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Witches and other magical beings coexist with humans (saram), although the latter are none the wiser about it. Riley/Rye, however, is an exception. She is a human girl adopted by a witch family. While her family loves her, it’s difficult being the odd one out, so Rye and her sister Hattie devise a plan to allow Rye temporary access to Hattie’s powers. Unfortunately, their plan backfires and puts the family in harm’s way. Now, Rye must race against time to save them.
With the abundance of books containing the magical school trope and overlapping realms, I wasn’t entirely enthusiastic about reading The Last Fallen Star. It was the promise of POC representation and the infusion of Korean myths that drew me in. I enjoyed it so much! It’s magical, full of surprises, and filled with heart warming messages. It’s a middle grade adventure that highlights the strength of familial bonds and the sacrifices we make to save those we love. Rye and Hattie demonstrate this through their efforts to support each other in the face of adversity including the witch clans’ unwillingness to allow Rye to prove herself as well as when Hattie endangers her life to protect the family. In trying to save Hattie, Rye learns that it’s not about the blood coursing through your veins but the values you hold that determine who you are.
Rye’s journey illustrates how isolation and belonging can be powerful motivators. Despite her family’s insistence that they love her, it’s difficult for Rye to overcome these feelings when she is the odd one out. She is often taunted for being different, so the extreme actions she and Hattie take are understandable. At one point or other, many of us have done something to try to fit in. It was easy to sympathize with both Hattie and Rye even as I wanted to yell at them not to do it. Kim successfully weaves multiple life lessons into Rye’s growth without feeling preachy. For younger readers, and adults alike, these lessons will resonate well, serving as reminders to value our families and friendships as well as to have faith in ourselves.