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The Last Mapmaker    by Christina Soontornvat order for
Last Mapmaker
by Christina Soontornvat
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's a YA fantasy set in a Thai-inspired world, and with an environmental theme - Christina Soontornvat's The Last Mapmaker. The author also wrote the Newbery Honor Book A Wish in the Dark.

Our twelve-year-old heroine Sai is the typical underdog, hoping to improve her place in the very stratified Mangkon, where societal position is based on lineage. She has lied about her low-life background to obtain work as assistant to legendary mapmaker Paiyoon Wongyai, and lies to her conman father about how she spends her days.

When Paiyoon becomes part of a naval expedition to chart the southern seas, he asks Sai to assist and she jumps at the opportunity, as success will earn significant rewards. It turns out that many on board have secrets, from Paiyoon to Rian Prasomsap, a close friend of the Captain. Rian befriends and mentors Sai and is very keen to reach the fabled - and perilous - Sunderlands.

At their first stop, the ship gains a stowaway, teen Bo, and Sai helps keep him hidden. They survive many adventures together, including mutiny and shipwreck. Gradually, Sai learns that the Queen of Mangkon's push to exploit world resources has done great damage, and that there is much more at stake here than her personal ambitions.

With Bo's help, Sai does what is right, despite the possible consequences. When they return to Mangkon, they tell a story ... but not the whole story.

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