Darkbeast

( 6 )

Overview

A girl’s love for her raven may put her life in jeopardy in this “tightly woven and carefully constructed fantasy” (Kirkus Reviews).

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...

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Darkbeast

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Overview

A girl’s love for her raven may put her life in jeopardy in this “tightly woven and carefully constructed fantasy” (Kirkus Reviews).

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?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Keyes’s fable of conscience and loyalty, Poe’s Raven, Collodi’s Talking Cricket, and Pullman’s Pantalaimon are adeptly distilled into Caw, the raven familiar, or darkbeast, of 12-year-old Keara. Every child in Duodecia grows up being told “Take it to your darkbeast.” All petty sins, bad intentions, and rebellious thoughts, properly confessed to the darkbeast, are taken away, so that a child is ready to become a good adult on his or her 12th nameday. On that day, the darkbeast is ritually sacrificed by the child whose sins it has cleansed. But Caw has been Keara’s constant companion during a lonely childhood: talking with her, watching over her, begging shamelessly for treats. Not to kill the darkbeast is heresy, punishable by the Inquisitors. Can Keara leave her village, elude the Inquisitors, and survive on the road? Perhaps—if she can persuade a band of traveling players to take her on. It’s a well-wrought tale that finds that difficult balance between accessibility and depth; Keyes talks to young readers without talking down. Ages 10–up. Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Associates. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Challenges and adventures abound, but Keara is strong-willed and feisty. . . . Tightly woven and carefully constructed fantasy."—Kirkus Reviews

"It's a well-wrought tale that finds that difficult balance between accessibility and depth; Keyes talks to young readers without talking down."—Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Keri Collins Lewis
Keara owes allegiance to twelve different gods and goddesses, but it is Bestius, with his black-painted temples and onyx altars, who holds the most power over her. His priest linked her to the raven Caw when she was just twelve days old. Caw is her Darkbeast, an assigned mentor throughout childhood for all of the citizens of Duodecia. Unlike many children who loathe their Darkbeasts—snakes, spiders, toads and other fearsome creatures—Keara loves Caw. When she misbehaves, Keara's mother ties her to Caw's cage with a cloth leash and instructs her to take her sin to her darkbeast. Magically, as she confesses and Caw takes her wrongs upon himself, Keara feels a sense of peace and lightness. She cannot imagine ever giving up this relief, but sacrificing her Darkbeast upon her twelfth birthday is the accepted rite of passage to adulthood. Anyone who violates this law is turned over to the Inquisitors, who instruct the Lost with knives, whips, and terrorizing threats. When Keara rebels, she is forced to abandon her family and seek refuge with the Travelers, one of many acting troupes that roam Duodecia presenting plays. Pursued by Inquisitors, haunted by memories of her past, and unsure of her place among new friends, Keara's bond with Caw is only strengthened. But in a place where her compassion is an act of rebellion, how can she survive? Keyes' carefully crafted and delightfully imaginative novel brings to life a vivid world populated by rich and intriguing characters. She brings intricate sensory detail to her descriptions in a way that offers readers the tastes, sights and sounds of each place Keara visits. A terrific and completely unpredictable twist at the end lays the groundwork for future novels set in this medieval-style fantasy realm. This book is a solid choice for libraries that want to increase their collection of classic fantasy tales, and a sure hit with readers who enjoy mystery, suspense, and unconventional heroines. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis
Kirkus Reviews
Life in Keara's world is determined by adherence to strictures unchanged through generations. Yearly tithes must be paid and marked by indelible wrist tattoos. The gods must be honored, and the Primate must be obeyed, all under the eyes of powerful Inquisitors. But most fearsome of all for Keara is the unbreakable rule demanding that children reaching the age of 12 must kill their darkbeasts in order to prepare for adulthood. The raven Caw has been Keara's darkbeast, her constant companion and dearest friend, whose function has been to take upon himself all her faults and negative emotions. Keara rebels, takes Caw and joins the Travelers, a group of actors who put on proscribed, unchanging plays about the gods and allowable new plays about ordinary folk. Challenges and adventures abound, but Keara is strong-willed and feisty and always has Caw's support, conveyed in intense telepathic dialogue. Keyes employs vaguely antique language to describe a richly imagined universe that has elements of the biblical and the medieval mixed with Greco-Roman–influenced mythology. Keara narrates her own story, allowing supporting characters to become more complex as her understanding expands with maturity. She is not alone in her rebellion. There are lots of loose ends and unresolved relationships and a rather obvious hint at a possible sequel. Tightly woven and carefully constructed fantasy. (Fantasy. 10-14)
BCCB
"A thoughtful, magical tale with a message that kids on the cusp of adulthood will find comforting."
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Set in a fantasy world in which medieval-style troupes of traveling players and theological inquisitors meld with the emotional disengagement frequently found in futuristic dystopias, this is the story of a rebel. Keara, like all children, has a "darkbeast," a small talking animal to whom she is intimately connected and who takes on the burden of her negative emotions and traits. At the age of 12, each child has to ceremoniously kill her darkbeast as she enters adulthood, supposedly freed of negative thoughts and feelings. Keara refuses to kill Caw, her raven whom she loves, and runs away with him to join a troupe of traveling players. As they travel the countryside, it becomes increasingly difficult for Keara to continue to play the part of a child, and the danger increases when the troupe encounters Inquisitors, whose role it is to ensure that all members of the society follow the rules with regard to the gods. Keara is a likable protagonist and her friends among the players are clearly drawn. The twist at the climax situates Keara's story in the context of a broader social struggle and leaves it open for a sequel. Her story may be enjoyed by fans of Jeanne DuPrau's "Books of Ember" series (Random) and those who enjoy somewhat quieter adventure stories set in other worlds.Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442442054
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 1,393,260
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.36 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Morgan Keyes grew up in California, Texas, Georgia, and Minnesota, accompanied by parents, a brother, a dog, and a cat. Also, there were lots and lots of books. Morgan now lives near Washington, DC, spending time reading, traveling, reading, writing, reading, cooking, reading, wrestling with cats, and reading. Because there are still lots and lots of books. Visit Morgan online at MorganKeyes.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 29, 2012

    I was absolutely captivated by DARKBEAST, it reminded me of the

    I was absolutely captivated by DARKBEAST, it reminded me of the books I read when I was growing up that made me a reader for life. Keara is a wonderfully drawn main character and because of the depth of her portrait you care about her fate from the start. The plot moves quickly and I found myself wanting to keep reading just to find out what would happen next. DARKBEAST explores the idea of coming of age rituals in a very detailed fantasy world and I imagine it will be great for sparking discussions about how young people move into the adult world. In short, it is fun and engrossing while not being condescending, it is simply a joy to read. I would heartily recommend it for any young reader (and even for older ones like myself).

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 29, 2012

    A perfect fantasy story for any age!

    I grew up reading classic fantasy stories by such authors as Anne McCaffery, Andre Norton, Lloyd Alexander, and of course, Tolkien. I loved books that had strong female protagonists I could identify with, intriguing new worlds for me to get lost in, and an adventure I wanted to follow until the end (or beyond). Author Morgan Keyes gives us all of those in her debut novel, Darkbeast. Keara is a believable, feisty, and courageous heroine, whose dedication to her companion Caw makes me root for her even when she makes mistakes. The world-building is fabulous, and reminds me of the classics of my youth, when authors created new lands I wanted to return to over and over. This book is called a "Middle Grade" novel, and in fact I would recommend it highly to anyone looking for a good read for the younger set (it's a fast and easy read, perfect for the kid who doesn't "like" to read). But as an adult, I also found it satisfying and fun; I think it would suit anyone from 10 to 100. If you like fantasy, you won't want to miss Darkbeast! (And if you have a favorite animal companion of your own, I'm sure they'd agree.)

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is a coming of age tale for children that left me, a grown

    This is a coming of age tale for children that left me, a grown woman, in tears. The author brings to life a vivid imaginary world in which our heroine must decide to follow her heart instead of the rules of society. She must decide for herself what is right and wrong, with all the pain of that goes with that discovery.

    Keara's yearning for _grace_ is beautiful and resonates deeply with anyone who has struggled with their own mistakes in life. I cannot say enough about how this book moved me. It will be with me for quite some time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2014

    Dark Beast

    Hai everyone, I enjoyed this sad but great book. Hope you guys enjoy.

    Love,
    Sophie Port

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2013

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