Cover of Our Divine Mischief, featuring the title surrounded by vines, celtic knots, and other elements

About the Book

Title: Our Divine Mischief
Published: 2023
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Cover Story: Montell Jordan
BFF Charm: Heck Yes x 3
Talky Talk: Evolving
Bonus Factors: Religion, Loyal Pets
Anti-Bonus Factor: War
Relationship Status: A Wish Come True

Cover Story: Montell Jordan

I requested a physical copy of this book, and I’m glad I did, because the letters and images shimmer against the dark background. We see the silhouettes of all three narrators – boy, girl and dog – as well as the thistles and Celtic knots that evoke the story’s setting.

The Deal:

On the island of Fuiscea, it’s tradition for every teenager to undergo a trial, during which the goddess of the island gives them a medallion to determine which craft they should learn. Hew LacEllan, who received a blank medallion two years ago, has been labeled “Unblessed” and treated like an outcast ever since, and Áila LacInis is afraid of being sentenced to the same fate. However, when her trial ends without her even meeting the goddess, and coming home with a mischievous, magical dog instead, not even the priests know what to make of the situation. Áila, Hew, and Orail the dog are all working to earn the right to belong somewhere, but is belonging something you can earn?

BFF Charm: Heck Yes x 3

BFF Charm Heck Yes - sparklier and shinier than the original BFF Charm

I liked all three narrators at once: fierce, stubborn Áila fighting for the right to give back to the village that took in her family when she was young; awkward, gentle Hew, who still loves the gods even though their priests call him unworthy; and Orail, who can’t remember who or what she is, only that she loves Áila and would do anything for her. 

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Áila has two potential love interests: Hew, who reaches out to her as the only other person with an irregular trial on the island, and Morgen LaCree, a young student of religion who interviews her for his work. No spoilers, but I was very happy with her choice. I especially liked that she doesn’t answer the boy’s confession right away, but takes some time to decide; they’ve both been through a horrible ordeal and can’t think clearly, and not many YA novels recognize that. 

Talky Talk: Evolving 

Áila and Hew speak in basic “YA historical fiction” prose with a few Scots words mixed in (there’s a glossary at the back of the book), but Orail’s voice shifts brilliantly through different forms of verse – free verse, haiku, limerick and sonnet – as she evolves from an (almost) ordinary dog into the ancient, powerful being she really is. 

Bonus Factor: Religion

A circle with a map in the middle and multiple different religious symbols all around the edges like a compass

All three characters struggle with questions of faith, such as whether their gods exist, why they allow evil, or what they really want to say to those who worship them. Áila feels rejected after not meeting the goddess at her trial. On the other hand, Hew still remembers the same goddess telling him she loves him, even though everyone else believes his blank medallion must mean the opposite. Orail deeply resents the gods, but can’t remember why. The answers the three arrive at are hopeful without being too simplistic, as well as a much needed challenge to religious bigotry.

Bonus Factor: Loyal Pets

A beagle puppy

I’m talking about Orail, of course, even though she’s a lot more than a pet. Howard writes in her Acknowledgements page that this character was inspired by her own dog: “a legend, a maniac, a hurricane, a miracle.” Orail can read minds, grant wishes and bend the laws of reality, but she’s still a dog and will knock you over into the mud if she’s happy to see you.

Anti-Bonus Factor: War

Two armies face each other across a battlefield while a city burns off to the side (from LotR).

There is a plot twist involving a usurper prince and an attempted invasion that I could personally have done without, especially since it comes with a very one-dimensional villain. Still, it did allow Áila and Hew to do some undercover spy work, which was fun.

Relationship Status: A Wish Come True

Book, you’re just what I wished for. And I’m definitely keeping you.

Literary Matchmaking

Lirael (Abhorsen #2)

Garth Nix’s Lirael is a story about another pair of misfit heroes and a dog as disreputable as Orail.

Wild Magic (The Immortals #1)

Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic is another story about a strong-willed girl who loves animals.

Divergent (Divergent #1)

Veronica Roth’s Divergent is The Goddess Trial, science fiction style: where just one day determines your whole future.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review. Our Divine Mischief is available now.

Regina Peters works in the video game industry, but her favourite imaginary worlds are on paper. She lives in Montreal, Canada, with her family.