Monday, April 15, 2019

MG Fantasy Review of The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu

40221339The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu
Format:  Hardcover
Publisher:  Walden Pond Press
Number of Pages:  368
Published:  February 12th,  2019
Source:  Library

Opening Line:  " The two sisters were alike in every way, except for all the ways that they were different." 

Iris and Lark may be identical twins, but that's only if you look no further then what's on the surface.  Iris is the practical one, the one that everyone says needs to be more "ladylike."  Iris is Lark's protector, the first to come to her aid and to speak for Lark when she can't speak for herself.  Lark is the creative twin, who invents stories to combat their monsters.  Together they're a team.  It's the way that things have always been.  That is until the moment that everything changed, the moment when their parents told them that they were going to be in different classrooms for fifth grade.  Not only that, but their mother also enrolled them in different after-school programs.  Both girls think this change is unfair and Iris begins to worry about how Lark will navigate school without her. 

 As the school year gets underway, we begin to see changes within both of the girls.  Iris begins to lack a purpose, it's almost like she doesn't know how to act without her sister.  Simple tasks like designing the cover of her composition notebook become stressful and she's unsure of what to do.  Where she was once confident, she's now become timid and feels "twitchy."   Lark hasn't been fairing any better, she's stuck in a classroom with a bully and a teacher (Mr. Hunt) who forces her to do the very things that terrify her like oral presentations and math drills.  Without her sister, she's struggling in class and becoming more and more introverted.  Which worries Iris even more. When Iris tries to talk to her mother about Mr. Hunt behaving like an ogre, things don't go quite as she'd planned.  Instead of listening to her, her mother wants her to embrace the new changes and allow Lark to be her own person.  But how can she when defending Lark and being her voice is something that Iris has always done.                   

Meanwhile, there are strange things happening all over town.  There seems to be a crow watching Iris from outside her window.  Even a new shop opens up with mysterious messages on its welcome easel and an owner who is equally odd.  When Iris ventures in to explore the Treasure Hunters antique store, she ends up walking into more danger than she bargained for.  At the same time, things begin to go missing around town and then in Lark's life.  First, it is small things like a bracelet, a key, one of the dolls from Lark's dollhouse.  Next, it's bigger things from around town, the disappearance of a taxidermied bird and the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture from the Museum grounds.  Then things take on an ominous turn and Iris is the one who needs rescuing.  

The Lost Girl initially begins from the vantage point of a mysterious narrator,  whose identity stays hidden until the very end of the story.  This is a brilliant setup, things are revealed slowly, giving the reader time to really get to know Iris and Lark.   While the main focus of the story may be on Iris, we learn so much about her because of how she contrasts with her sister.  Or how Iris sees herself when she is separated from Lark.  You come to know and love both of them as they struggle to find a way of dealing with being in separate classes, not having each other to rely on as they always have.  It's really a very sad situation.  On the one hand, I totally understand the importance of Lark being able to stand up for herself but to force Iris to watch Lark struggling in class and then not give her any means of helping her sister, it seems cruel.  It's no wonder that Iris begins to feel lost and stressed over worrying about her sister.  They have such a special bond, even a special language that no one else knows.  They see each other, know each other to their very core, their a team.  Not only is it difficult to watch Lark struggling at school, is difficult to watch Iris completely lose her confidence.  There were many times that I wanted to hug these girls, to let them know that they would make it through this.  

Just as we slowly learn more and more about Iris and Lark, the villain of the story is also slowly revealed.  And boy is he creepy and unnerving, the way that he taps into her insecurities, her fear that she might be bad for Lark, that she has no power in her life.  How those around her aren't truly listening to her.  It's kinda like watching a movie hoping the villain gets what's coming to them.  And being happy when they finally do.  In this case, it's girl power and summoning one's inner courage that wins the day.  So if you like sibling stories, strong females, magic that has a cost, and a story that will make you revel when the villain has been vanquished, The Lost Girl is a perfect choice.      


  1. Sounds like a really good story. I really like that the narrator is someone with a hidden identity. I've never read a book like that beforee.

  2. I've not read anything by Ursu - I think this might be the one I should start with. I'm not that interested in school stories but I like what you've written about strange things happening and the villain emerging.

    1. Breadcrumbs was the last book by Anne Ursu that I read. I just really liked the cover and the story idea was intriguing. I'd say this is more about the two girls relationship then a school story, but lots of the action happens at school.

  3. This sounds like it is a novel story. I am intrigued with the twins, with their differences.

    I love stories that surprise me.

    1. Love to know what your thoughts are if you end up reading it.

  4. Ursu is one of my favorite MG authors. I loved Breadcrumbs and The Real Boy. I definitely have to read this one soon. Sounds like another great read. Thanks for sharing. :)