by Sarah Beth Durst
Cover Artist: Jaime Ibarra
Review by Gayle Surrette
Margaret K. McElderry Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781442423763
Date: 11 September 2012 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
How much are you willing to give up to keep your family and friends safe? Would you study for years to keep your body pure and healthy and fit? Would you give up seeing your family ever again? Would you give up your life?
Liyana's people live in the desert where the drought has lasted for years and there is less and less food and less water at the oases. Liyana is their best hope for survival. She's been training for years to be the vessel of their goddess, Bayla, and the book opens on her last day as Liyana. In the evening, she'll dance while the tribe chants, and Bayla will come and inhabit her body and Liyana will be dead. She dances all night but Bayla doesn't come. The tribe votes to let her live, even though she has disgraced them and despoiled her body somehow in secret, but they cast her out and move on to a new oasis.
She did nothing wrong. Liyanna knows that she'd have never done anything to jeopardize the tribe and her family -- afterall she was willing to die for them. After she gets over the shock, she finds that her family has left her a few items that will be essential for her survival. But, does she want to survive alone and abandoned by Bayla? Then the Raven shows up and tells her that someone is deflecting and capturing the souls of the gods, keeping them from their vessels. He needs her help to free them and set things right.
Thus begins a great adventure as Liyanna and the Raven god seek to set things right. During the journey, Liyanna learns she has more strength and power than she knew. She learns to think beyond her death -- she learns to live.
Durst has never been an author to shirk the hard questions and the difficult choices for her characters. Liyanna's life and her death were all planned out for her and then she was given a second chance. On the other hand, her tribe -- all the tribes -- are going to die if the gods aren't freed to enter (and kill) their vessels. There are some big philosophical questions and the ramifications of the several options as they play out as the story unrolls across the desert, the hill country, and the mountains of her world.