The Map of Leaves

Orla Carson has closed herself off from the world when her Ma died. All she wants is to be left alone in her garden with her horse and the plants whose whispers she understands. But when a mysterious illness comes to the village of Thorn Creek and the blame is cast on nature and the wild, she must leave and embark on a journey in search of a cure. With only her Ma’s book of plants and remedies as a guide, she must begrudgingly team up with Idris and Ariana, who are hunting for the cure for their own reasons.

Yarrow Townsend’s compelling debut novel invites readers of all ages to take notice of the nature and flora around us, to consider how we, either negatively or positively, can impact the environment. This fast-paced adventure sees Orla and her companions navigating treacherous waters, visiting desolate places sickened by disease and making friends and foes along the way. Amidst decay, they also find beauty and the prevailing and healing power of nature.

Townsend deftly explores themes of communal apathy, abuse of power and oppression. Grief is also a central theme. Orla is hurting and her continuous coldness towards her companions and her village can be hard to read at times. Her emotional journey into believing in herself and finding friendship and strength in community is a beautiful one to follow. This is an exciting read, full of twists and turns, where nature quite literally comes alive. Highly recommended!