Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

“Min is a supernatural creature, a fox spirit, with the ability to use fox-magic, called the Charm, to change her appearance and persuade others to do things. All her life, her mother has told her to avoid using the Charm, as foxes are mistrusted and looked down upon by the rest of society. When an investigator comes to their home inquiring after her brother Jun, who he claims has deserted from his place in the Space Forces, Min takes matters into her own hands and goes in search of him. Her travels take her from a gambling house run by a disowned relative to the ship where her brother was last stationed, the Pale Lightning. The more Min learns about her brother’s disappearance, the more she suspects foul play and all signs seem to be leading to the discovery of the Dragon Pearl, an ancient relic with great powers and value. The story’s climax features multiple surprises and betrayals, in a quick but unhurried pace. Lee skillfully weaves Korean folklore into this space opera narrative, creating dynamic and relatable characters. The ending is satisfying, tying up loose ends, but leaving room for a sequel. VERDICT With ghosts, pirates, and a rollicking space adventure, there’s a little something for everyone here. A recommended purchase for all middle grade collections.” — School Library Journal, Starred Review