This is a clever story about a girl who must travel several kingdoms to fulfill a quest bequeathed in her parents' will. It's not a quest she can ignore, because magic. Traveling from aunt to aunt, she visits each of her late father's sisters, encountering very different people in very different lives, each with something (or nothing!) to teach our heroine. Along the way, she begins to learn how the world works, meeting not only people from opposing nations but non-humans such as sea sprites. As the story unfolds we begin to learn that there's a problem in the world and that the people who solved the last problem are not coming back to help. Piecing together what happened when the world defeated the mysterious Whispering Kingdom, she comes to realize that her family and her parents' maddening obscure quest might hold the secret to the whole thing.
I read this to my daughter and was really glad for the opportunity. It's very clever and smoothly glides from scene to scene with such turns of phrase and characters and plot that I could easily have read it for myself. There are any number of passages in this work where I had to stop and admire the writing, or to explain some of the more adult phrasing to my daughter - a real pleasure.