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Into the Labyrinth

Published by Te Rā Aroha Press on 20 February 2020, RRP $22.99

“A sound broke through the usual calm—the same cracking sound I had heard while I was awake!”

The fragments Awa Bryant trapped just after she learned she was a long-awaited Dreamweaver are terrifyingly close to breaking free – so close that even in the waking world she can hear their efforts to crack their giant glass prison.

Veila the Dreamcharmer is training her to use her powers, but Awa's impatient, distracted and still struggling with anxiety in her waking life. Yet, the threat grows stronger.

She learns from Veila and the Priestess Tree that she must find the mysterious Dreamrealm labyrinth in order to master her powers and learn to alchemise the fragments before they can do more harm.

Even with the training and the guidance she’s received, can she succeed in her quest and defeat them before the marvellous Dreamrealm is destroyed?

Into the Labyrinth is written in an accessible style and set in contemporary New Zealand. It presents strong, relatable characters, like its predecessor, Awa and the Dreamrealm.

This book is powerful in tackling topical issues such as mental health and resilience, as Awa learns how to manage her anxiety and powerlessness caused by upheaval in her life. Through her challenges, Awa grows more confident in herself and in connecting with others.

The path Awa takes is magical and empowering as it teaches valuable lessons. Though she struggles against outside forces and growing new abilities, she becomes self-reliant and powerful in her own right. Her journey is one of heartache and exploration, with a dash of otherworldly beings.

Reminiscent of books like Sherryl Jordan’s The Juniper Game, Chris Colfer’s The Land of Stories, or Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti, young readers will adore Into the Labyrinth.

In addition, 2020 is significant for local sci-fi and fantasy as ConZealand, the World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon), will be held in New Zealand for the first time.

Into the Labyrinth is suitable for young adult readers and children aged 9+.

Praise for the Dreamweavers series:

“Isa Pearl Ritchie has created a wonderful world, or Dreamrealm, in this book aimed at the younger reader…Awa's lucid dreaming, and the world she enters, is described so fully you can picture it in your mind's eye.” – Rebekah Fraser, NZ Booklovers

“An intriguing tale of empowerment through the lens of lucid dreaming.” – Mandy Hager

"This magical, dream adventure is definitely one to read. I thought the writing was spot on for the audience and the voice and tone. LOVED IT." – The Book Moo

"Awa is a wonderful protagonist who is relatable and learns to cope with her problems in a unique way. Isa Pearl Ritchie's writing is glorious... Not only is this story great for middle grade readers, but as an adult, I was whisked away into this magical story. I'm a big fan and can't wait to read more!" – Jessica Belmont, book blogger

About the Author:

Isa Pearl Ritchie is a Wellington-based writer. As a child, she loved creating imaginary worlds. She grew up in the Waikato as a Pākehā child in a bicultural family, and Te Reo Māori was her first written language. She has completed a PhD on food sovereignty in Aotearoa. Her second novel, Fishing for Māui, was selected as one of the top books of 2018 in the New Zealand Listener and was a finalist in the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Adult Fiction Book 2019. Into the Labyrinth is her second book for young readers and is a follow-up to 2019’s Awa and the Dreamrealm.

A note from the author

I wanted to write a series for young readers because as a child I found English literacy very challenging. I also struggled with anxiety as a child, which was undiagnosed because people just assumed I was shy.

Anxiety is often invisible so it's hard to cope with but also hard for adults to recognise. I wanted this to be a theme of the series, and to write the kind of books I would have loved to read as a child – that would have helped me to build my English literacy and also to cope with anxiety and build resilience, while still being a fun imaginative adventure.

I felt compelled to write something fantastical but also possible, which is where the lucid dreaming comes in. The Dreamweaver series draws on some of my own experiences with anxiety and also with lucid dreaming. It is both a very real and a very imagined story. I've also had a lot of help from my daughter, Tesla, who is 11. She has been a great editor – giving me excellent feedback on what an almost-13-year-old would and wouldn't say!

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