Mara lives in a city made up of islands, appropriately called the City of Islands. This is a mysterious land where music has power and magic is real. Twelve-year-old Mara works for the Lady of Tides. Her work is to dive in the waters around the islands to find magical treasures left over from the city founders. The city founders, strange beings who vanished long ago, were capable of great feats of magic, able to create buildings and other wonderful creations through their songs. One day, Mara finds a number of strange skeletons on the sea floor, skeletons of creatures that she had never seen before. Had she discovered something left behind by the founders? Mara hopes so, but when she takes her discoveries to the Lady of Tides, she finds herself given a new challenge: break into the fortress known as the Winter Blade and report on what she finds there. What Mara finds there is danger, and that danger soon threatens Mara and all of her friends.
City of Islands is a charming fantasy book for elementary and middle school readers. Mara is daring, loyal to her friends, and has just the right amount of curiosity to make
her a fun character. The world in which she lives is wonderfully imagined. The only thing that could have improved the story was if the magic system could have been a little more developed. Still, overall, an enjoyable read.