Elegant, thoughtful story

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We are caught up in the main character's thoughts from the first sentence of this fantasy. Ning is mourning her mother's death and sister's illness, both caused by poisoned tea -- which Ning poured for them. Only winning a greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea n at the palace and thus securing a request for the best doctors to attend her sister, will partially assuage Ning's guilt. So we follow Ning from her simple home through the long, dangerous journey.

Beautiful cover and beautifully written fairy-tale-like YA fantasy.