Author: Morgan Keyes
Publication: Margaret K. McElderry Books (August 28, 2012)
Description: 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?
My Thoughts: DARKBEAST creates a rich and creative fantasy world filled with numerous gods and myths. Keara is from a small village, the youngest child of her widowed mother. At twelve days old she was bound to her darkbeast, a crow she calls Caw. She and Caw have been inseparable companions. Caw's purpose is to take all the destructive emotions from Keara so that she will grow into adulthood and fit in to the life that is planned for her. Then, on her twelfth birthday, Keara must sacrifice her darkbeast and take her place among the adults.
But Keara can't kill this friend who has been part of her for all her life. She chooses, instead, to leave the village and go off after the travelers who are a troupe of wandering players who travel around the country performing plays about the gods. She needs to keep out of the sight of the Inquisitors who are charged with finding and correcting those who flout the rules. Keara does make a place for herself among the players and makes friends with two other children - Vala and Goran - but she is always afraid that the Inquisitors will find her.
As readers, we learn about the various gods through the plays the travelers perform. We learn about the beliefs of the people in the country by want they do. There are no large "info-dumps" to tell us what is happening. We see the world through Keara's eyes. We get to see the strong, positive, loving relationship between Keara and Caw. And we see what happens when Vala reaches her twelfth name day and sacrifices her darkbeast.
Caw is a fascinating character in his own right. He dispenses all sorts of wisdom while still remaining a crow with a constant appetite for treats. I think Keara lucked out in the darkbeast department. I found Caw a much more sympathetic companion than Vala's serpent or Goran's toad.
I was fascinated by this new world, by Keara and Caw, and by the travelers and couldn't put the story down. I think fantasy readers who like a strong heroine willing to go to great lengths for what she believes in despite a huge amount of social pressure to conform will enjoy this story. The ending is not exactly a cliffhanger but there is certainly room for a sequel or two. There are lots of unanswered questions remaining.
"If you do not kill me, there will be consequences."I received a copy of this book from McElderry Books at the request of the author in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.
Consequences. I had no idea what Mother would do if I did not kill my darkbeast. Bestius's priests, either. Certainly, no child in silver Hollow had ever refused--all the adults I knew had been grateful to be rid of their hated companions.
But killing Caw would be like killing a part of myself. I could no more execute my darkbeast than I could cut off my own arm, than I could sever my foot.