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The Well of Sacrifice

The Well of Sacrifice

4.4 7
by Chris Eboch, Bryn Barnard (Illustrator)

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Eveningstar Macaw lives in a glorious Mayan city in the ninth century. When the king falls ill and dies, the city begins to crumble. An evil high priest, Great Skull Zero, orders the sacrifice of those who might become king, including Eveningstar's beloved brother. Suspicious of the High Priest's motives, Eveningstar attempts to save her brother, thus becoming an


Eveningstar Macaw lives in a glorious Mayan city in the ninth century. When the king falls ill and dies, the city begins to crumble. An evil high priest, Great Skull Zero, orders the sacrifice of those who might become king, including Eveningstar's beloved brother. Suspicious of the High Priest's motives, Eveningstar attempts to save her brother, thus becoming an acknowledged enemy of the High Priest. Condemned to be thrown into the Well of Sacrifice, Eveningstar must find a way not only to save her own life but to rescue her family and her city from the tyrannical grasp of Great Skull Zero. Set against the vivid background of everyday life at the height of the Mayan golden age and illustrated with striking black-and-white paintings, Eveningstar's candid, gripping, and not-for-the-faint-of-heart account of the last days of a great city will have readers at the edge of their seats. Afterword.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"an exciting narrative with a richly textured depiction of ancient Mayan society...The novel shines not only for a faithful recreation of an unfamiliar, ancient world, but also for the introduction of a brave, likable, and determined heroine." Kirkus Reviews

Set in ninth-century Guatemala, at the height of the Mayan civilization, this is the story of Eveningstar Macaw, a young girl who finds the fate of her city in her hands. When she discovers enemy soldiers in the jungle while she is hunting medicinal herbs, Eveningstar Macaw tells her older brother, Smoke Shell, who saves the city. But the honor conferred upon Smoke Shell and his family turns out for the worse after the death of the king puts him in line to rule. Harsh, highly placed enemies sacrifice Smoke Shell to the gods; then it is up to Eveningstar Macaw to avenge her brother and eventually save herself. Eboch does a good job of balancing the many details of Mayan life with an electrifying--sometimes gory--story. Eboch does not pull back much as she chronicles both the sacrifices and the ritual bloodletting that were part of the Mayan culture. Of course, shocking events won't deter readers who will already be caught up in the excitement that reaches a high-velocity climax as Eveningstar Macaw struggles to avoid the fate her enemies have plotted for her.
Booklist, ALA

Eveningstar Macaw ages from ten to fourteen in this lush and vivid portrayal of ninthcentury Mayan life. When her people capture "savages" from another tribe, ritualistic ceremonies begin with feasting and end with human sacrifice. Only a captive named Small is spared. The evil Mayan king imprisons Eveningstar, marking her for sacrifice, when she attempts to rescue her brother from a similar fate. After two escape attempts with help from her mother and Small, Eveningstar is thrown into the Well of Sacrifice. She pretends to drown before climbing to safety, able at last to help save her city from its evil ruler. While Eveningstar's story accurately depicts Mayan culture with its human sacrifice and selfmutilation, male characters are virtually absent. Eveningstar and her mother participate in daring masculine activities that are most likely not historically accurate. Though Eveningstar is likeable as she ponders such issues as human sacrifice and the abuse of power and natural resources, her firstperson narrative creates onedimensional characters in a fastpaced plot that curiously lacks suspense. Readers naturally presume that Eveningstar will emerge victorious. Intermediate and middle school girls will like and identify with the intrepid Eveningstar, and boys might be attracted to the action that includes gruesome sacrificial descriptions. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M J (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 1999, Clarion, Ages 12 to 15, 236p, $15. Reviewer: Lisa A. Spiegel
Children's Literature - Rebecca Joseph
First time novelist Chris Eboch has written a gripping story about Eveningstar Macaw, a ninth century Mayan teenager, who fights to save her family and city from the grip of evil High Priest, Great Skull Zero. Because of her courageous actions, Eveningstar Macaw is responsible for her family's rise to nobility. When the community's king dies, everything Eveningstar Macaw believes in is challenged when Great Skull Zero wants to sacrifice several young noble men, including Eveningstar Macaw's beloved brother. As she tries to stop the sacrifice, Eveningstar Macaw becomes the focus of Great Skull Zero's rage and must survive his attempts to send her into the well of sacrifice. Along with the interesting story, the Mayan setting itself is fascinating with riveting details about the obstacles facing many Mayan citizens.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Set in a large Mayan city during the ninth century, this well-written story follows the exploits of Eveningstar Macaw, the youngest daughter of a well-to-do merchant family. Rather than pursue the traditional custom of learning domestic arts and managing a household, she prefers to become a healer like her mother. When Eveningstar's brother, Smoke Shell, performs an act of heroism, the family is elevated to noble status. After the death of their popular king, Smoke Shell is considered a likely candidate as a successor, but an ambitious and unscrupulous high priest endangers anyone who is perceived as a competitor for the throne. After making an unsuccessful attempt to save her brother's life, Eveningstar becomes involved in efforts to thwart the plans of the high priest, risking her own safety. The adventures of this tenacious heroine are suspenseful and entertaining, providing readers with an exciting story and a realistic feel for everyday life in and ceremonial practices of the ancient Mayan culture. Well-researched historical fiction and a good read.-Cynthia M. Sturgis, Ledding Library, Milwaukee, OR Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A bustling ninth-century Mayan city is the setting for this engrossing first novel. When 11-year-old Eveningstar Macaw is scavenging through the nearby jungle, looking for the rare herbs her mother, the healer Blue Quetzal, uses as medicines, she stumbles across a scouting party of invaders who have been pillaging nearby villages. Eveningstar races to warn her brother, the brave warrior Smoke Shell, and her quick-thinking leads to a Mayan victory, and the naming of her family to nobility. Eveningstar persuades the evil High Priest, Great Skull Zero, to spare the youngest of invaders, whom her family takes as a slave and then befriends; her unease at their family's unexpected good fortune is validated when, at the death of the King Flint Sky God, Great Skull Zero orders six of the city's bravest warriors to accompany the royal corpse, including her brother. Although she can't prevent her brother's death, or the reign of terror that Great Skull unleashes, she rises up to resist the evil that threatens to destroy them all. Eboch crafts an exciting narrative with a richly textured depiction of ancient Mayan society, without dulling any of its edges; the author captures the enlightened elements of Mayan culture—its sophisticated economy, strict legal code, and elaborate pantheon of gods—while also portraying its ritual human sacrifice. The novel shines not only for a faithful recreation of an unfamiliar, ancient world, but also for the introduction of a brave, likable, and determined heroine. (Fiction. 9-13)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.83(d)
930L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

 Chris Eboch is the author of over 30 books for children, including The Well of Sacrifice and the Haunted series. Visit her online at chriseboch.com

Bryn Barnard is an author and illustrator of several books for children, including Outbreak! Plagues that Changed History and The Well of Sacrifice, which was written by Chris Eboch. Visit his online at his website at brynbarnard.com and on Twitter @brynbarnard.

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Well of Sacrifice 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like it sofar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JGolomb More than 1 year ago
Chris Bloch's "Well of Sacrifice" is a fictional anthropological tour of Maya life set during the tenth century just as the Maya civilization has peaked and the mighty Mesoamerican civilzation starts to crumble. This wonderful book, targeted at 6th grade and up, is strong in historical and cultural content and makes a terrific complement to an educational program, or in preparation for travel to the Yucatan or anywhere in Central America where the Maya had significant presence. Imbued with cultural context, Bloch's narrative makes the educational content fully engaging. While Maya nobility and royalty play a key role in the story, the focus of Bloch's book is on the common people, specifically one young girl named Eveningstar Macaw, and how, through the will of her personality, changes this one Maya city. The Story is not action-filled until the last 40 pages or so, but it moves quickly and Evengstar is well-developed. She's very respectful and religious, but not blindly so. She's free-thinking and logical, while also proscribing to her deep religious foundational beliefs (sacrifices and all). Through Eveningstar, author Bloch takes the reader on a tour of Mayan society, and this what makes the book truly standout. We read about the Maya culture, religion, as well as their calendaring system. As Eveningstar finds her way through the difficulties of Mayan life, the reader learns about the society's professions, food, hobbies, trade, death rituals, medicinal and construction capabilities, and military. Bloch even builds a scene at a ball court, found at many Maya sites throughout Mesoamerica. The story concludes with a view into some of the climatological, military, religious and societal reasons as to why the Classic Maya age came to an end. Bloch takes the archaeological-based realities of Maya life, and communicates it through a strong and simple narrative. I enjoyed this book as an adult. It puts flesh on the bone of a people I know relatively little about. I'll ask my 11 and14 year olds to read it before we travel to the Yucatan and visit Chchen Itza and Tulum.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chris Eboch, a first time nolvelist, has made a book that is the best. Eviningstar Macaw was once a commoner then she saves her city and becomes a noble. When the king becomes sick and dies her city starts to become extinct. Then the evil high priest Great Skull Zero picks her older brother and five other nobles to be sacrificed. As she fails to save her brother she tries now to save her city. When she gets thrown in the well of sacrifice that becomes her worst obstacle. If you want more information read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a GREAT book! wow! I've always been facinated by Mayan and Aztec culture, but there was never a good novel about their daily life and culture. I recommend this book to every one. It has action, humor and romance. It's really great. I hope there is a sequel!