Author: Glewwe, Eleanor
Marah, an underclass 'sparker' in a society ruled by magicians, works with her friend Azariah to find a cure for a mysterious disease that turns its victims' eyes black.
|Accelerated Reader Information:
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.10
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 169710
School Library Journal (00/10/14)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 06/01/2014 Gr 5–8—Marah discovers that her brother Caleb has been struck by the illness that is spreading rapidly in the city of Ashara. Like the other victims, Caleb is feverish and his eyes have turned an unnaturally dark color. The sickness is always fatal. What can she do? Marah is only a halan, a sparker as they are insultingly called, and does not possess the magic of the ruling class of kasari. Marah, as do many of the halani, has the gift of intuition, but that did nothing to save her father from dying years ago or the young man in the marketplace from being magically executed by the First Councilor Corps a few weeks before. Yet that same day in the marketplace, Marah saved a young kasiri girl, Sarah, who has taken a keen interest in Marah's storytelling abilities. Soon Marah meets Sarah's older brother, Azariah, who shares her fascination for languages. Pooling their knowledge, they soon discover that they are in possession of the recipe for a cure for the dark eyes, but it comes from a language outlawed by the council over a hundred years ago. The two children must risk their lives to get the ingredients on the black market and brew the magic cure—all while hiding from their pursuers. Marah and Azariah, with the help of his family, must attempt to overcome the First Council and disperse the cure to all. This book holds all that fantasy readers could desire: magic, intrigue, mysterious characters, ancient curses, and a dark evil that must be defeated. Not everything is wrapped up neatly, and the various characters are multilayerd, neither all good nor all bad. A worthy and worthwhile stand-alone book in a genre so often serialized.—Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 10/15/2014 The kingdom of Ashara is ruled by the magical kasiri, even though the majority of the populace are poor, nonmagical halani. Halani like 14-year-old Marah and her family suffer with second-rate schools and low-paying jobs, but when illness breaks out in the kingdom, it leaves both groups mourning their dead. Joined by a love for books and languages, Marah befriends Azariah, and together they race against time to decipher an ancient text that could heal all the sickness that pervades the land. The fantasy setting makes it easier to address the realities that undergird this story: human suffering, social inequality, and power-hungry political leaders. Strong, believable characters and an important message compensate for a story line that sags at times. Middle-school novels rarely address social injustice so clearly, and this first novel does so in a way that empowers young people to think of ways to make a difference. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.