Reading Level: Young Adult
Size: 368 pages
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Rating: 4/5 stars
I absolutely loved Bow’s novel Plain Kate and was very excited to read this second novel by her. This was a well done fantasy with a Native American flare to it. It starts kind of slow but I loved the second half of the book.
The story focuses on a society who uses knotted cords and strings to bind the dead. If the dead are not bound they attack and infect the living, causing the person infected to slowly die. However, something is wrong with the knots and it is up to the young Binder Otter to figure what it is. Otter is the daughter of a powerful binder (her mother) Willow.
This story starts very very slowly. It took me 100 or so pages to really get engaged in it. Once it gets going though it is a very good read. There is a lot of reference to Native American culture and a lot of emphasis on storytelling as a means of defense against the dead.
Otter is set on being a binder but when her mother turns her away from that trade Otter is lost. Willow says she is trying to save Otter from the dangers of being a Binder, but it is all Otter knows.
There are two other characters that are in the story just as much as Otter, they are her best friends and playmates Kestral and Cricket. Kestral and Cricket are very well done and have just as much depth and life as Otter does.
Kestral ends up becoming a ranger and learns survival and battle. She is a beautifully strong and hopeful character who is always steadfast in her support of Otter throughout the book.
Cricket ends up becoming a storyteller, he is one of the few men in the village. Cricket tells some wonderful stories throughout the book. The characters find that the most evil of the dead, the White Hands, can be lulled into complacency with stories. I loved reading and listening to Cricket tell his tales.
The first half of the book is slow as everything is set up. Then our fearless trio takes off on an adventure to find the wrongness of the bindings and things get much more interesting.
I loved the idea behind the story of binding the dead to save them from becoming evil spirits, I also loved how the story unfolded and how these people had to deal with the consequences of restricting their dead by bindings.
Overall this was a magical and beautifully written story. The writing is beautiful there are wonderful descriptions throughout. I enjoyed the characters and loved the caring friendship that Otter, Kestral, and Cricket had. This would have been a 5 star book if not for the slow pacing for the first half of the book. If you can get through the first 100 to 150 pages, the story really starts to pick up and get interesting. While I didn’t like this book as much as Plain Kate (which I adored), it still ended up being a good read. I would recommend to those who are interested in a fantasy with a Native American feel to it.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge