Racing the Dark

( 6 )

Overview


Like the other women of her island, Lana expected to become a diver, harvesting jewels from a native fish. But during her initiation dive, she finds a blood-red jewel that marks her as someone with power. Though she hides the jewel, the mark it represents will drive her away from her home island and into an apprenticeship with a one-armed witch. Alaya Dawn Johnson has created an unforgettable coming-of-age story set in a world where wielding the power of magic requires understanding the true meaning of...
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Overview


Like the other women of her island, Lana expected to become a diver, harvesting jewels from a native fish. But during her initiation dive, she finds a blood-red jewel that marks her as someone with power. Though she hides the jewel, the mark it represents will drive her away from her home island and into an apprenticeship with a one-armed witch. Alaya Dawn Johnson has created an unforgettable coming-of-age story set in a world where wielding the power of magic requires understanding the true meaning of sacrifice.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In Johnson's bold debut, a young woman faces sweeping changes to the ancient traditions and culture of her tiny island home. When 13-year-old Lana recovers a rare sacred jewel from a dying mandagah fish on her first solo dive, she hides it rather than accept the responsibility of becoming a mystic. Within six months, the mandagah are dying due to changing water conditions, destabilizing the island's economy, which depends on the fish and their jewels. To pay for her family's passage to the city-island of Essel, Lana becomes an apprentice to the sorceress Akua. When Lana learns Akua gets her powers from blood sacrifice, she's appalled, but soon she must strike her own terrible bargain to save her mother's life. Johnson's story is reminiscent of Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea books, but it suffers from incomplete world-building. If Johnson can get a better handle on her island culture, economy and magic system in future books, this proposed series could be a stand-out. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Like the other women dwelling on their seismically active island, Lana plans to become a diver for the jewels within the fish of the freshwater seas. Her first dive, however, turns up a rare jewel that marks her as a woman of power and causes her to flee her island home with her family in search of a teacher who can prepare her for the danger that lies ahead. Johnson's first novel presents a coming-of-age story with a strong female protagonist and an unusual and exotic setting. For most collections. [Johnson, just 25, is currently at work on the sequel volume to this planned trilogy.-Ed.]


—Jackie Cassada
School Library Journal

Adult/High School -A coming-of-age story set on a Polynesian-like island. Alana faces her approaching puberty ritual with great concern as the entire population faces devastating typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanoes, brought on by the angry spirits of wind, water, and fire. Apprenticed to a witch, the girl denies her true power. She naively thinks that her sacrifice will save her mother, but she is caught in a web of deception. Dark forces erupt, changing all her plans. This novel has rich details of setting and character motivation. The prose is lyrical and metaphorical, in a style similar to Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist (HarperCollins, 1993). There are also elements of Greek myths in which mortals and spirits meet with mostly tragic results. The complex plot requires careful reading but the effort is worth it. Teens who enjoyed Ursula Le Guin's Always Coming Home (HarperCollins, 1985; o.p.) will like this novel, and many readers will identify with a character facing adult responsibilities while still feeling like a child.-Deirdre Cerkanowicz, Berkeley Public Library, CA

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932841442
  • Publisher: Agate Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 370
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A reviewer

    Teenage Lana lives on the island earning a living diving in fresh water to take jewels from mandagah fish. When Lana goes through the rite of adulthood ceremony, she finds a special blood-red jewel that she hides from her family and the village elders. She knows the gem means she is someone with power, but she does not want to become an elder as those who obtain special jewels become elders have no independence as their life is filled with responsibilities for others.--------------- Six months after she hid the jewel, the village cash crop, the mandagah fish are dying out caused by changes to their watery environs. Lana¿s family wants to relocate to another island, but have no means to pay neither the transportation nor settling. To do so Lana obtains an apprenticeship with a strange ¿exiled¿ witch the sorceress Akua, who uses blood sacrifice to fuel her spells. As Lana learns how to cast spells, she must sacrifice something of personal value to cast her incantations. When she is tricked into sacrificing her beloved mother, Lanai knows she cannot she must find someway to save her mother¿s life, which means using even more ancient forbidden dark magic.---------------- This is a terrific coming of age fantasy thriller starring a thirteen years old girl whose rite of passage into adulthood takes a dark turn when she finds the special blood gem. Readers will feel they have entered Johnson¿s Island (not the military base in the Pacific) realm as the geography and climate come across rather influentially and powerfully. However, the island culture beyond the gem economy and government never fully seems developed although in fairness the gems are the heart of society. Still filled with twists especially the key Twilight Zone spin, young adults will enjoy RACING THE DARK alongside of Lana, who would do anything for her beloved mother as witnessed by her sacrificing her soul to apprentice to the blood witch.----------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2009

    AWESOME

    Being an islander this book looks like it took some of island myths and legends and combined them all together to make an awesome book... i read it in 2 days and recommend it to everyone!!! I can't wait for the others to come out!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2008

    A reviewer

    'Racing the Dark' is a haunting, fascinating novel that has you hooked with the opening scene and leaves you begging for the next installment in the trilogy. Parts of the book are reminiscent of Ursula Leguin's 'Wizard of Earthsea' but as ever, Alaya twists words and traditional fantasy in completely new directions--if you haven't read her short story 'Third Day Lights' or novella 'Shard of Glass' you should. 'Racing the Dark' is an excellent start to what I'm sure will be a long and fruitful literary career.

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    Posted June 8, 2011

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