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.
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 cultureits sophisticated economy, strict legal code, and elaborate pantheon of godswhile 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)
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 electrifyingsometimes gorystory. 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.