The Verdigris Pawn


The heir to the Land should be strong. Fierce. Ruthless.

But Beau has no interest in power. He’d be happy to spend his days mastering Fist, an outlawed game of strategy. Until he meets a girl who opens his eyes to the truth.

Distilled by fervent ideals, Beau’s journey is one of confusion, misunderstands, treachery, and fractured friendships. Traitors, villains, and magic charms keep the pages turning and remind us that no matter how old we are if we listen to our own voice and follow the truth, we will make whatever world we inhabit a better place.

Praise for The Verdigris Pawn

“A rich, inventive, captivating story of big injustices and small heroes, The Verdigris Pawn nods to classic fantasy while asking questions deeply relevant to our world. A magical adventure that readers will adore.”
— Anne Ursu, author of The Lost Girl

“Heartfelt, hopeful, and charming, The Verdigris Pawn is a deftly crafted tale that weaves adventure with purpose, beautifully illustrating how kids can change the world.”
— Heather Kassner, Author of The Plentiful Darkness

“With vibrant characters readers can’t help but cheer for, Wishingrad’s debut is a tribute to the beauty of both language and story. Filled with magic, suspense, and a shifting landscape of who is friend and who is foe, The Verdigris Pawn expertly explores the double-edged swords of power, loyalty and righteousness. A gorgeous and unforgettable book.”
— Rebecca K.S. Ansari, author of The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly and The In-Between.

“The Verdigris Pawn is the rare fantasy novel that realizes that most problems are not solved by finding an enemy, declaring it evil, and destroying it. Just like Fist, the enigmatic game at its center, the book is a study in shifting roles and allegiances—all while its characters struggle to remain true to their sense of right and wrong. It is also a blast to read, with wonderfully rich language and intriguing parallels to real-world issues of inequality and oppression.”

— The Bee’s Bookshelf from The Scripp’s National Spelling Bee

“The idea that you don’t have to be who you were raised to be is one that readers may just be considering at this age, and it’s handled with grace and depth.”
— Bulletin of the Center For Children’s Books Review

“Wishingrad creates a cast of well-realized characters, a believable pre-industrial world, elements of magic, and a fast-paced inventive plot. The journey offers reflection, surprises, and plenty of adventure.”
— Booklist

“Taking the standard fantasy trope of a tween saving the kingdom and working in social justice themes is kind of a brilliant twist. The slowly revealed back story of Beau’s mother and her relationship to the magic that Cressi has will keep readers guessing, and I liked the way that everything was resolved.”
— Ms. Yingling

The Verdigris Pawn by Alysa Wishingrad is a fantastic middle-grade novel that is hard to put down. I recommend this book as a read-aloud for 9+ and as a reader for 10+ as there were some scenes at the end that younger readers might not be able to handle. I give this book 5/5 stars as it’s a great middle-grade read.”
— Ayan’s Review, Books Are Gems (Kid Reviewer)

“This book is not your typical middle-grade fantasy; not only does it have a timeless, almost classical feel, it also has the complexities of an epic fantasy that you’d expect from YA or even adult books. But the story never gets so overcomplicated that a middle-grade reader would feel out of their depth.”
— Nicole Hewitt, Feed Your Fiction Addiction

The Verdigris Pawn is a wonderful, complicated story with heroes and villains and surprising plot twists. [Perfect for those who love] fairy tales and exciting adventures”
— Debbie Tanner, The Book Search

“Through the metaphor of a chess-like game called Fist, Wishingrad weaves in strategy, intrigue, and the use of people as playing pieces in a game of power. After coming to terms with the truth about his uncaring father, acquiring real friends, and finding a purpose to his life, the hero Beau, his name appropriately a homonym for the tool that wields the weapon when aimed correctly, learns that he, too, can be sharp and deadly. The book leans heavily on fantasy tropes like secret magic, a quest, and an alleged hero turned villain, but it does it with aplomb and, in the end, is a highly entertaining and readable book. Give to fans of Adam Gidwitz, Diane Magras, and Anne Ursu.”
— Jill O’Connor, Merrill Memorial Library

“The Verdigris Pawn is a wonderful escape, a tale of truth, trust, and doing what’s right. Readers will delight in this fast-paced fantasy in which mistakes can be opportunities, power is not what it seems, and the seemingly helpless can have the greatest impact of all. A perfect debut for our times.”
— Diane Magras, Author of The Mad Wolf’s Daughter

“Wishingrad explores the nature of privilege and the dangers of generational bias in this fantastical middle-grade debut with a strategic chess-like game at its center.”
— PW

“A wonderful story set in an expertly crafted fantastical setting THE VERDIGRIS PAWN is a true delight to read. With elements of both modern and classic quests and characters that you’ll want to follow anywhere, this is a story that pulls you in and won’t let go. Adventure and friendship combine to create an absolute joy of a book!”
— Marielle Orff, Bookseller, Towne Book Shop

“A richly imagined classic-feeling Middle-Grade fantasy that grapples with questions of Justice and Revolution that will resonate with kid readers. Fast-paced! Gorgeous!”
— Jennifer Laughran, Bookseller, Oblong Books

“This story makes a strong statement about the corruption of power in leadership positions and how easily a society can become inequitable because of that greed. The tween characters are strong, courageous, and resourceful, but are also flawed which leads them to the brink of disaster many times. With its high stakes and a fast pace, young readers are going to fly through this book cheering on our reluctant hero Beau and his friends. Highly recommended for ages 10 and up.”
— Middle-Grade Mojo

“Vivid descriptions and an action-packed plot make this fictional world come alive for readers of all ages. The story itself is a powerful metaphor, inspiring readers to pursue truth and justice even when they are hard to find. I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages!”
— Mary Lanni, Children’s Book Reviews

“Wishingrad has written an engrossing, middle-grade novel. In Beau, Cressi, and Nate, she has created three distinct, multi-dimensional characters who come alive on the page. In the Land, Wishingrad has made a politically complex world both accessible and interesting to younger readers. Finally, she crafts her plot in such a way the reader will remain hard-pressed not to turn the page. ”
— Annie Peters, Portland Book Review