Keri, a child of the First People, lives in an era of wild landscapes and frozen seas. It is a time of hardship and superstition, hostile raiders and predatory animals, but also of faeries and magic. From Myrna’s storytelling and her observations of nature she glimpses a world beyond the humdrum, peopled by supernatural beings, in which Mabb, queen of faeries, reigns supreme. Mabb, she comes to understand, exists beyond time and controls human destinies. So, when baby brother Lu lies dying after a near drowning for which she is blamed, she turns to Mabb. She offers the faerie queen her life in exchange for Lu’s. Little does she foresee the events that her wish sets in motion.
Told in the first person, the story is emotive and intense, shifting seamlessly between this world and a fantasy world, which provide Keri with experiences of mortality and immortality respectively, and from which, ultimately, she must choose.
The book is beautifully written, its settings atmospheric and characterisation vivid. However, the twist at the very end artificially reconciling the worlds of fantasy and reality is unnecessary and sits oddly with what is, in all else, a powerful and compelling story. The publisher is doing itself a disservice by setting an age band of 9 plus for this book. The deeper levels of the story – its spiritual intensity, lyrical descriptions and philosophical underpinnings – are more suited to a mature readership who may not bother to pick up a book targeted at readers as young as nine, ten or even eleven.