Lia Park and the Heavenly Heirlooms by Jenna Yoon. Aladdin, 2023. 9781534487963
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5
Format: ARC (Publication date 5/30/2023)
What did you like about the book? Lia Park is ecstatic to finally join the International Magic School, where she will learn advanced martial arts and hone her magic with other amazing students. Joon will be there as her partner-agent, and she’ll finally make friends. Of course, though, her school year starts off in disaster. First, during her initiation ceremony, her magic fails her completely, making Lia look pathetic in front of her whole class. Then, Joon decides to hang out with Vic, a student who is out to embarrass her, and Lia can’t understand Joon’s betrayal. Lastly, the nine-headed monster Jihagukdaejoek, King of Darkness, infiltrates the school and steals one of the three Heavenly Heirlooms of light and fire, using a school project that Lia and her team built, making all of them – especially Lia herself – the prime suspects. To stop Jihagukdaejoek from stealing the rest of the Heavenly Heirlooms and plunging the world into darkness, Lia must team up with Joon, Eugene, her fellow Hwarang-in-training, and Chloe, the mechanic whiz, to track down the remaining heirlooms and bring them to safety. But with Lia’s magic acting up and a traitor among the students, can the four heroes travel to the great landmarks of Seoul and prevent the King of Darkness’s return? Or will someone lurking in the shadows get the heirlooms first?
Lia Park and the Heavenly Hierlooms is the action-packed sequel to Lia Park and the Missing Jewel, this time centering around a magic-school setting before venturing out across Korea to battle legendary monsters and deities. Lia and Joon are back and this story tests their relationship with themes of betrayal, support, and faith. Eugene and Chloe are good supporting characters who elevate the dynamics of the group, and both enemies and side characters add different flavors to the story. All characters are Korean.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Many times throughout the story, the text will have a lot of inconsistencies. I did read an ARC, so maybe these will be fixed, but sometimes I got confused as to which character was speaking and who they were talking to. Also, like the first book, the pacing is very fast, especially toward the end. This does three things: 1) it makes it hard to reflect on different characters’ actions or dwell on Lia’s internal thoughts; 2) Lia will seemingly switch back and forth between opposing feelings and opinions very quickly; and 3) characters will seem inconsistent because on one page they are acting/saying one thing and then 3 pages later they will do/say something completely different. It can be jarring.
To whom would you recommend this book? Kids who like mythology adventure or magic school books. The Last Shadow Warrior by Sam Subity, Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tola Okogwu, and Kelcie Murphy and the Academy of the Unbreakable Arts by Erika Lewis are all good read-a-likes.
Who should buy this book? Middle Schools and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? J Fiction or J Fantasy
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Laila Carter, Cheltenham Township Library System, Glenside, PA
Date of review: May 30, 2023
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