The Daughters of Izdihar
The Daughters of Izdihar is fun, poppy YA with a vivid magical system and intense feminist values. I think my favorite part of the book is the authentic, complex characters who all have deep flaws--selfishness, cowardice, fanaticism, lack of imagination--but who are all, in the way of real humans, trying to make the world as good as it can be. I love a conflict that is true to the kinds of conflict you see in real life, and here we have people who are afraid of magic for valid reasons and people who want to hold onto power for selfish reasons, chaotic tension, accidents that make things worse--it's all very real.
Elsbai's prose is straightforward and easy to read, easy enough that I was able to read almost the entirety of this book on the bus and during a sleep study. Meaning I was sitting in a medical center with electrodes all over my scalp and face, and The Daughters of Izdihar did a great job distracting me from the sterile air, uncomfortable chairs and overall grossness of being covered in wires. And if that's not a strong recommendation, I don't know what is.
It appears there's going to be a second book. I'm excited to read the next book from Elsbai!