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When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging, bewitched river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Sure enough, Ned grows up weak and slow, and stays as much as possible within the safe boundaries of his family’s cottage and yard. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community.
In the meantime, in another kingdom across the forest that borders Ned’s village, lives the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King, who is haunted by her mother’s last words to her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” When Ainé’s and Ned’s paths inevitably cross, they must learn to trust each other and make their way through the woods together to return the magic to its resting place and stop a war that is about to boil over.
Kelly Barnhill lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children. She is the author of four novels, most recently The Girl Who Drank the Moon, winner of the 2017 John Newbery Medal for the year’s most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. She is also the winner of the World Fantasy Award, the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, and the Texas Library Association Bluebonnet Award, and has been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award, the SFWA Andre Norton Award, and the PEN/USA literary prize. Visit her online at kellybarnhill.wordpress.com or on Twitter: @kellybarnhill.