A girl’s love for her raven may put her life in jeopardy in this gripping tale.
In Keara’s world, every child has a darkbeast—a creature that takes dark emotions like anger, pride, and rebellion. Keara’s darkbeast is Caw, a raven, and Keara can be free of her worst feelings by transferring them to Caw. He is her constant companion, and they are magically bound to each other until Keara’s twelfth birthday. For on that day Keara must kill her darkbeast—that is the law. Refusing to kill a darkbeast is an offense to the gods, and such heresy is harshly punished by the feared Inquisitors.
But Keara cannot imagine life without Caw. And she finds herself drawn to the Travelers, actors who tour the country performing revels. Keara is fascinated by their hints of a grand life beyond her tiny village. As her birthday approaches, Keara readies herself to leave childhood—and Caw—behind forever. But when the time comes for the sacrifice, will she be able to kill the creature that is so close to her? And if she cannot, where will she turn, and how can she escape the Inquisitors?
In Keyes's fable of conscience and loyalty, Poe's Raven, Collodi's Talking Cricket, and Pullman's Pantalaimon are adeptly distilled into Caw, the raven familiar, or darkbeast, of 12-year-old Keara. Every child in Duodecia grows up being told "Take it to your darkbeast." All petty sins, bad intentions, and rebellious thoughts, properly confessed to the darkbeast, are taken away, so that a child is ready to become a good adult on his or her 12th nameday. On that day, the darkbeast is ritually sacrificed by the child whose sins it has cleansed. But Caw has been Keara's constant companion during a lonely childhood: talking with her, watching over her, begging shamelessly for treats. Not to kill the darkbeast is heresy, punishable by the Inquisitors. Can Keara leave her village, elude the Inquisitors, and survive on the road? Perhaps-if she can persuade a band of traveling players to take her on. It's a well-wrought tale that finds that difficult balance between accessibility and depth; Keyes talks to young readers without talking down. Ages 10-up. Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Associates. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Margaret K. McElderry Books
August 28, 2012
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