Hello, friends! I am so honored to be part of the blog tour for Anne Ursu’s latest book! Before we get into the book proper, mark your calendars for a book launch party – October 26 at 6 pm CT Anne will be in conversation with Kelly Barnhill, hosted by WILD RUMPUS BOOKS in Minneapolis. Click here for more information.
And now – drumroll, please…
About the Book:
If no one notices Marya Lupu, it’s likely because of her brother, Luka. And that’s because of what everyone knows: Luka is destined to become a sorcerer.
The Lupus might be from a small village far from the capital city, but that doesn’t matter. Every young boy born in Illyria may possess the rare ability to wield magic, to protect the country from the terrifying force known only as the Dread. For all the hopes the family has for Luka, no one has any for Marya, who can never seem to do anything right. But even so, no one is prepared for the day that the sorcerers finally arrive to test Luka for magical ability, and Marya makes a terrible mistake. Nor the day after, when the Lupus receive a letter from a place called Dragomir Academy — a mysterious school for wayward young girls. Girls like Marya.
Soon she is a hundred miles from home, in a strange and unfamiliar place, surrounded by girls she’s never met. Dragomir Academy promises Marya and her classmates a chance to make something of themselves in service to one of the country’s powerful sorcerers. But as they learn how to fit into a world with no place for them, they begin to discover things about the magic the men of their country wield, as well as the Dread itself — things that threaten the precarious balance upon which their country is built.
About the Author:
Anne Ursu is the author of the acclaimed novels The Lost Girl, Breadcrumbs, and The Real Boy, which was longlisted for the National Book Award. The recipient of a McKnight Fellowship Award in Children’s Literature, Anne is also a member of the faculty at Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Minneapolis with her family and an ever-growing number of cats. You can visit her online at www.anneursu.com.
PRAISE FOR THE TROUBLED GIRLS OF DRAGOMIR ACADEMY
“A wonderful and inspiring feminist fantasy.” – Kirkus
“An accessible, timely school story with a rather Transylvanian flavor to its fantasy setting. Ursu explores girls’ conditioning in timidity and shame in a male-dominated world and, ultimately, envisions a hopeful, female-determined future of magical ability.” – Horn Book Magazine
“A suspenseful tale woven with secrets and magic, with a gasp-worthy twist at the end, The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is everything I love about fantasy. Spell-binding.” – Christina Soontornvat, Newbery Honor-winning author of A Wish in the Dark
“Anne Ursu practices her own brand of sorcery—the ability to craft wondrous, magical stories that are unlike anything you’ve ever read. Another extraordinary tale from a remarkably talented author.” – Erin Entrada Kelly, Newbery Medal-winning author of Hello, Universe
“A thoughtful and incisive story of lies told to control people and the complicated girls who ask questions, push back, and keep fighting.” – Tui Sutherland, New York Times-bestselling author of the Wings of Fire series
“It’s no secret that Anne Ursu is a gifted storyteller. The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is intricately plotted and compulsively readable, with characters who will stay with you long after you stop reading. I could not put it down.” – Aisha Saeed, New York Times bestselling author of Amal Unbound
“The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy manages the particular magic of being both a true fantasy novel and a clear-eyed reflection of the here-and-now. Bighearted, generous, and outstandingly original, this is a story only Anne Ursu could write.”– Elana K. Arnold, award-winning author of The House That Wasn’t There
I first read Breadcrumbs shortly after it was a Cybils finalist and have read and listened to all of her books since then both to myself and with my children. I had just gone back to read her first trilogy The Cronus Chronicles when I heard she had this new book coming out – so exciting!
This book hooks the reader right away with the strong sense of injustice, as Marya has to clean the chicken coop while her brother is given lessons and elegant new clothes. Her parents’ highest ambition for her is to be able to work in her brother’s household once he’s a sorcerer. Only the renowned tapestry weaver in the village shows her a vision of a life not based around serving a man. Madame Bandu teaches her a little about her work and the secret symbols that the women weavers use when retelling the stories powerful men have paid them to weave into permanent historical records. While I love a good girl with a sword story, I really enjoyed how traditional women’s handwork has power and meaning here, and it’s work that Marya has to struggle to try to master instead of either rejecting it or it coming effortlessly to her.
Just knowing that people in power can tell stories that benefit them gives Marya an advantage when she arrives at Dragomir Academy, where uniforms and strict regulations aim to make the girls forget who they were before came there. But why are they there in the first place? All of them have stories they’re not supposed to share – but why are the leaders so intent on telling them that those pasts will be forgiven if they work hard enough?
The world feels beautifully Eastern-European inspired, the characters sympathetic. Their struggle to work with each other as allies instead of the rivalry that’s taught to them, and to see past what they’ve been told is true to discover a long-buried truth is dangerous and relevant. And though it would have been easy to focus just on the girls, it’s clear that the patriarchy hurts the boys, too – including Marya’s brother. Brava, Anne!
BLOG TOUR STOPS
October 12 A Nerdy Bibliophile in Wanderlust
October 13 Read Wonder
October 14 Nerdy Book Club
October 15 A Library Mama
October 16 Maria’s Mélange
October 17 By Singing Light
October 18 Bluestocking Thinking
October 20 Insatiable Readers