They say never judge a book by its cover, but as a twelve-year-old that’s exactly what I did. Perusing the local library, the cover art is what first drew me to Tanith Lee’s Wolf Tower, Book One of The Claidi Journals. The cover showed a young girl, close to my age, holding a book, with a desert kingdom stretching out behind her. I also remember the blurb on the cover said, “For fans of Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted.” Ella Enchanted was my favorite book of all time—surely this was a sign from the book gods; I checked out Wolf Tower from the library and quickly fell into my very first fantasy world.
If you’re unfamiliar with the series, The Claidi Journals is a quartet of YA fantasy books detailing the adventures of a teenage girl named Claidi as she attempts to uncover her heritage. Lee creates a rich world that centers around a ruling hierarchy of noble Houses, named after various animals: Wolf, Raven, Tiger, etc. Each House’s power is centralized in a tower, such as the foreboding Wolf Tower, which lends its name to the first novel. Claidi is a slave who escapes from her House and travels throughout the wider world, while the reader follows the action via her journal entries.