Set against an interstellar backdrop, this gritty science-fiction thriller explores concepts of humanity and mercy. When the Willis family is convicted of piracy in an intergalactic court, 12-year-old Megan is branded with the mark of a criminal, made to wear a shock collar, and forced to work on an Alliance spaceship under near-constant surveillance. Unexpected events allow Megan to escape, and she finds herself on a planet known for selling human children into slavery in dangerous mines filled with large, venomous bees. Determined to free the kids, she goes on a crusade to take down the slave trade but learns that its roots may be more insidious than she imagined. Faced with more hardship, Megan implores her deity, the Astral Dragon, for guidance. With the help of other young peopleDirk, Crystal, Oliver, and ZoëMegan must find a way to expose the traitorous adults. But can she stay true to the merciful ways of her dragon god? Davis expansive romp is lushly imagined, filled with talking birds, gruff aliens, perilous planets, and many exciting near misses. However, the plotting is overstuffed, leaving certain threads frustratingly less developed; perhaps future installments will resolve this. Davis does not shy away from the horrors associated with slavery, with gritty, dark twists evincing the physical abuse the children must endure. Megan, Oliver, and Crystal are White; Dirk and Zoë are cued as Black. Intense and richly detailed but not without a few stumbles.