Rowan is the sole survivor when his entire family is struck down by the plague. Alone and grief-stricken, Rowan ekes out a living by playing music on his button box in the small towns and villages of Prosper. He lives and travels in his family's old caravan, half starved and in despair. One day, he finds he has competition: a young man playing a violin. Rather than make an adversary, Rowan suggests they travel and play together, but he regrets his offer when he finds out that Samik is from the Tarzine Lands, ...
Rowan is the sole survivor when his entire family is struck down by the plague. Alone and grief-stricken, Rowan ekes out a living by playing music on his button box in the small towns and villages of Prosper. He lives and travels in his family's old caravan, half starved and in despair. One day, he finds he has competition: a young man playing a violin. Rather than make an adversary, Rowan suggests they travel and play together, but he regrets his offer when he finds out that Samik is from the Tarzine Lands, beyond the volcanoes, and is being pursued by a vengeful warlord. And that's not all. Samik also claims to have the Sight – and what he sees (and hears) is Rowan's dead sister, Ettie. As they travel from town to town, they form an uneasy alliance, which gradually evolves into a friendship that will be tested to its limits when Samik is captured.
"This fantastic young adult novel allows the reader to really delve into the idea of loss and the comforts that we are able to find in loss...Bennett reveals to readers that grief can form a sort of language and that it can tie people together into new relationships.The music of this narrative becomes a haunting lullaby weaving new and old, one place and another, and diverse people together."
Best Books of 2012 January Magazine
"The story turns on the twinned themes of friendship and grief and places an engaging story into a fascinating landscape...Bennett brings a fantasy world into suspenseful, believable life. "
TriState YA Book Review Committee
"Suspense ramps up throughout the novel and the climax is compelling...A great story of friendship and adversity."
"Bennett has crafted a wonderfully exciting story with great characters that the reader will cheer for. She has an ability to create whole worlds with specific nuances that make them interesting and believable...The story moves quickly, with many tense moments that will keep readers turning the pages to a surprising and satisfying conclusion...Highly Recommended."
YALSA YA Galley Teen Review
"Both Sam and Rowan are developed, realistic characters and their friendship is a source of comedy and emotional dynamics as well as a solution to the book's surface conflict."
"A rollicking adventure set in a fantasy land...It has all kinds of excitement."
Library Media Connection
"A fast-paced story of loss, friendship, learning to trust, and letting go, wrapped around an adventure with just a touch of the supernatural...Samik and Rowan are well-drawn, the descriptions of Prosper and the people they encounter are nicely detailed. Readers will enjoy watching the friendship between the young men develop. This page-turner will appeal to reluctant or struggling readers."
Wandering musician Rowan, his family dead of plague, and Samik, on the run from a vicious warlord, join forces, at first with misgivings. Bennett has crafted a believable, medievallike world. Rowan travels about in a mule-drawn caravan playing a button box, a type of accordion. He's a gifted musician, but life is hard and he's haunted by the deaths of his parents and beloved little sister, Ettie. Samik successfully defended his younger brother from attack by a warlord, and now he's fled pursuit to Rowan's country. Gifted with second sight, he points out to Rowan that Ettie is always with him, the girl's spirit adding an attractive paranormal twist. The narrative switches between the points of view of Rowan and Samik and occasionally ratchets up the suspense by cutting back to the savage men who are trailing Samik--and clearly getting closer. Rowan shows a growing maturity as he learns to make his way without his parents' guidance; Samik, from a privileged background, is less determined to mature. He hides his growing affection for Rowan both from the boy and from readers, who might be surprised when he finally gives himself away. Suspense rather than action sustains the plot, but a scary climax doesn't disappoint. An appealing fantasy with enough tension to firmly hold readers' interest. (Fantasy. 12-18)
Holly Bennett is the editor-in-chief of Today's Parent Special Editions and the author of The Warrior's Daughter, Shapeshifter and the Bonemender series. Before becoming a writer and editor, Holly was a researcher for Aboriginal organizations and a youth employment counselor. Born in Montreal, Holly now lives in Peterborough, Ontario, with her family.