Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Vessel/Sarah Beth Durst
Once each century, the desert clans summon their gods to take human form; the gods inhabit a human vessel (after displacing the human soul inside), and restore water to the wells, heal sickness, and perform other miracles for the well-being of the clan. The summoning is even more important than usual this year, when the Great Drought has destroyed many of the oases that the clans rely on for survival. Liyana is the chosen vessel of Bayla, goddess of the Goat Clan, and she is more than willing to give up her life to save her people. But when Liyana and the clan magicians summon Bayla, she does not come. Believing her to be unworthy, Liyana's clan abandons her to fend for herself in the desert with only minimal supplies. Then, on her third (and possibly last) day, a young man walks out of the desert. He carries no food or water, and claims to be the trickster god Korbyn, of the neighboring Raven Clan. He says that someone has kidnapped many of the deities that should have come to earth, including Liyana's goddess, and he needs her help to get them back.
This is far and away one of my favorite books of this year. The setting is rich and well-developed, and the back-and-forth between Liyana and Korbyn is lots of fun. There is a villain in this story, but we don't get a glimpse of him until the very end of the book, so most of the conflict comes from trying to survive the harsh and beautiful desert, as well as trying to convince the isolated, self-reliant clans that they must work together to save themselves. Highly recommended for fans of Robin McKinley, Tamora Pierce, and Rae Carson (though that last one might be because I'm reader her newest book right now, and it shares a similar desert setting).