Monday, February 18, 2008

Pg. 69: Kathleen Duey's "Skin Hunger"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Kathleen Duey's A Resurrection of Magic: Skin Hunger.

About the book, from the publisher:

Sadima lives in a world where magic has been banned, leaving poor villagers prey to fakes and charlatans. A "magician" stole her family's few valuables and left Sadima's mother to die on the day Sadima was born. But vestiges of magic are hidden in old rhymes and hearth tales and in people like Sadima, who conceals her silent communication with animals for fear of rejection and ridicule. When rumors of her gift reach Somiss, a young nobleman obsessed with restoring magic, he sends Franklin, his lifelong servant, to find her. Sadima's joy at sharing her secret becomes love for the man she shares it with. But Franklin's irrevocable bond to the brilliant and dangerous Somiss traps her, too, and she faces a heartbreaking decision.

Centuries later magic has been restored, but it is available only to the wealthy and is strictly controlled by wizards within a sequestered academy of magic. Hahp, the expendable second son of a rich merchant, is forced into the academy and finds himself paired with Gerrard, a peasant boy inexplicably admitted with nine sons of privilege and wealth. Only one of the ten students will graduate -- and the first academic requirement is survival.

Sadima's and Hahp's worlds are separated by generations, but their lives are connected in surprising and powerful ways in this brilliant first book of Kathleen Duey's dark, complex, and completely compelling trilogy.

Among the praise for Skin Hunger:
"Beautifully written, fierce, and unforgettable."
-- Holly Black, author of Tithe

"In this darkly atmospheric fantasy, the first in a planned trilogy called A Resurrection of Magic, Duey weaves together the stories of two teens who live in a world in which the working of magic has a turbulent history. When her bitter father dies, Sadima, a young woman who can communicate with animals, keeps house for two renegade magicians at a time when magic has been outlawed. Her experiences, which include learning to read and falling in love, alternate with those of Hahp, born generations after Sadima. Exiled by his wealthy, disapproving father, he attends a school of wizardry where, among other unpleasantness, students are starved to death if they can't conjure up food. The pacing in this page-turner accelerates as the stories progress and links between them emerge, moving toward a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers anxious for future installments."

"In our overtrilogied era, it's a delight to read a Book 1 and be so exquisitely left short of answers about its engaging characters at the end. We follow, in two apparently different time periods, a handful of people involved in the transmission of magical knowledge in a kingdom where magicians and kings struggle for dominance."
--Mary Harris Russel, Chicago Tribune
Read an excerpt from Skin Hunger, and learn more about the book and author at Kathleen Duey's website and her blog.

Skin Hunger is a National Book Award finalist.

Kathleen Duey has written numerous books for younger readers, including the chapter book series The Unicorn's Secret and the Hoofbeats series.

The Page 69 Test: Skin Hunger.

--Marshal Zeringue