Guardians of Dawn: Zhara (Hardcover)
September/October 2023 Kids Indie Next List
“Jones delivers in the most magical way a shimmering retelling of Cinderella with Sailor Moon vibes — if that didn’t make you drop everything to read it, I’ve got three words for you: You will laugh.”
— Vania Stoyanova, Brave + Kind Bookshop, Decatur, GA
Sailor Moon meets Cinder in Guardians of Dawn: Zhara, the start of a new, richly imagined fantasy series from S. Jae-Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Wintersong.
Magic is forbidden throughout the Morning Realms. Magicians are called an abomination, and blamed for the plague of monsters that razed the land twenty years before.
Jin Zhara already had enough to worry about—appeasing her stepmother’s cruel whims, looking after her blind younger sister, and keeping her own magical gifts under control—without having to deal with rumors of monsters re-emerging in the marsh. But when a chance encounter with an easily flustered young man named Han brings her into contact with a secret magical liberation organization called the Guardians of Dawn, Zhara realizes there may be more to these rumors than she thought. A mysterious plague is corrupting the magicians of Zanhei and transforming them into monsters, and the Guardians of Dawn believe a demon is responsible.
In order to restore harmony and bring peace to the world, Zhara must discover the elemental warrior within, lest the balance between order and chaos is lost forever.
"A treasure of a book that combines spellbinding fantasy with wit, charm, and a heartwarming romance. Nods to beloved fairy tales and fandoms blend seamlessly with demon possession and dark magic, creating a read that is both joyful and riveting. I can't wait to see what other surprises this series has in store!" —Marissa Meyer, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles
“Jae-Jones takes on Cinderella with magic and style, breathing new life into all the best parts of the story. An outstanding spin on a well-loved classic.” —E.K. Johnston #1 New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Queen's Shadow
"There is something warm and nostalgic about this story that reminds me of my childhood--lush worldbuilding, a charismatic cast, and an epic adventure with all the romance of classic fantasy. This is the kind of book you curl up with in a good armchair, with a favorite blanket and a big mug of tea." —Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Stars And Smoke
"S. Jae-Jones has successfully captured the magic that infused the animes of my childhood with life and depth and breathed it into this gorgeous Young Adult Fantasy! Both Han and Zhara jump off the page to grip at your heart. In a world so complexly built that one could visit, if only they dared. A beautifully crafted story that will set your soul soaring and heart racing!" —Kat Cho, New York Times bestselling author of Once Upon a K-Prom
"Guardians of Dawn: Zhara is the kind of fantasy that first made me a reader. Tender and bewitching, joyous and thoroughly transporting. Zhara and Han are not just protagonists you root for, but characters you feel you've known your whole life. S. Jae-Jones weaves a spell on every page." —Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Wolves and Aru Shah
"Jae-Jones has done it again! Guardians of Dawn: Zhara is a new entry into the fantasy pantheon I've been waiting for. Every reader can find something to love in this first installment of a sure to be monumental and vastly important series. I cannot wait to read more! —Kosoko Jackson, author of Yesterday Is History
"Perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer’s 'The Lunar Chronicles,' this heartwarming, heartbreaking start to a series will leave readers aching for more." - School Library Journal, starred review
"This high fantasy series launch will leave you eager for the next book." - The Boston Globe
"With strong East Asian influences and themes in the worldbuilding, this magic-filled story will hook readers with its endearing lead; they will finish this volume and beg for the sequel. An engaging fantasy set in an original magical world." - Kirkus
"While this volume serves as Zhara's origin story, there is no shortage of well-rounded friendships and world-ending disasters to keep readers on the hook for future installments." - Booklist
"The languorous pacing of the narrative, which unfolds via Zhara and Han’s alternating perspectives, allows for expansive worldbuilding in this East Asian–inspired historical fantasy adventure" - Publishers Weekly