Kidlit :: The Republic of Birds :: Jessica Miller

April 01, 2020

I first came across Jessica Miller's then upcoming middlegrade fantasy novel The Republic of Birds when I was spending A LOT of time on twitter following #authorsforfireys. The cover is so stunning it caught my eye immediately (and its even better in real life!) - and, on reading the blurb, I thought it sounded really cool! Here's the summary from Goodreads.

Olga loves the stories of the old cartographers and pores over their ancient books and maps, trying to unlock their secrets. Sometimes, she can even feel through the maps—almost see into them — as if by magic.

When the bird army kidnaps Olga’s sister, Mira, Olga knows that only she can venture into the Republic of Birds to rescue her. But first, she must unlock her magical ability.

As her journey takes her into the hidden world of the Iagas and the wilds of the Unmappable Blank, Olga discovers the truth about the war with the birds—and learns just how much is at stake in her quest to save her sister. 

I loved this book! It had a wonderful, sometimes almost creepy, Russian folktale feel - kind of like The Bear and the Nightingale for kids. There was humour and strange magic and adventure and politics, and the world was so rich and detailed -I really felt like we were getting a little peek into just one part of a much bigger place, and I honestly wanted more! I feel like there was so much about the world, and about Olga herself, that I would like to know more about - I really would not be mad if Miller wrote us some more stories from this universe.

Olga was a really fun protagonist to spend time with. She is fun and quirky and clever and brave - more so than she might know herself. I enjoyed seeing her interactions with others, and her wonderful obsession with maps and cartographers helped make her feel quite real to me - I love hearing kids talk about things they are passionate about, and this was very much like that. I also really enjoyed seeing how Olga's view of herself changed throughout the book - I love a finding your place/strength narrative, and this was a really lovely element of Olga's story
The relationship between Olga and Mira was wonderfully written. I loved the way that Miller drew out that balance that often exists in sibling relationships between rivalry - or even jealousy - and intense, conquers-all sisterly love.

Overall I just thought this was an absolute delight, and am looking forward to getting my hands on Miller's previous book Elizabeth and Zenobia. I think this would be a great read for anyone after a clever and magical adventure, and perfect for fans of books like Matt Haig's A Boy Called Christmas series (the humour and quirky magic and brave protagonists gave them a similar kind of vibe for me - you can see me rave about those over here).

xo Bron

The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller

Out now from
Text Publishing
Source: I received a free advance copy from Text Publishing (Thank you!)
Category: Middlegrade/upper primary (ages 9+) fantasy adventure fiction
Themes:  family, magic, sisters, finding your place
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
RRP: $16.99

The Republic of Birds on Goodreads

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  1. I've had this on my wish list since I saw you tweeting about it during the authors for fireys.
    This book sounds so good, and I need to get it asap!
    I absolutely love reading your thoughts, Bron!