Hathin lives in a village on Gullstruck, a primitive island. Her people, the Lace, smile all the time no matter what they are feeling, and decorate their teeth with jewels. They also worship the volcanoes on the island. The Lace are not trusted or liked by the other island villages.
Most of the people on the island are regular people, but a select few are known as “Lost.” The Lost can do something really incredible. They can send their senses away from their bodies. Meet one, named Raglan Skein:
It was a burnished, cloudless day with a tug-of-war wind, a fine day for flying. And so Raglan Skein left his body neatly laid out on his bed, its breath as slow as sea swell, and took to the sky.
He took only his sight and hearing with him….Like all Lost, he had been born with his senses loosely tethered to his body, like a hook on a fishing line. He could let them out, then reel them in and remember all the places his mind had visited meanwhile.
Hathin’s siter, Arilou, might be a Lost. Might. Arilou doesn’t speak anything other people can understand. She mumbles gibberish and Hathin translates. The trouble is, Hathin has been making stuff up – she doesn’t now what Arilou is saying either, if anything. Hathin has been pretending because having a Lost in their village is good for the Lace, it makes the other people on the island like them more. Things get tense when an inspector comes to verify Arilou’s talents. Just how is Hathin going to pass these tests?
Hathin is saved from even having to try when a mysterious illness strikes every single Lost, an illness that makes them instantly drop dead. All of them, at the exact same moment, wherever they are on the island. All of them, that is, except Arilou. So, does that make her a fake, or really, really special? Nobody has time to figure that out because the Lace village is blamed for the plague that hit the Lost and is burned to the ground. Hathin and Arilou flee for their lives and this is when the action and the mystery gets really, really interesting.
Why did all of the Lost die at the same time? If Arilou really IS a Lost, why did she survive? Who would benefit from having the Lost gone? Who would want to get rid of the entire Lace village and why? As the girls flee through the jungle they meet up with some surprising allies who each have stories to tell about the evil that is infecting the island. Evil that feeds on prejudice, intolerance and hate. Evil that will resort to anything, even murder, to set a plan in motion. The problem is, no one can put a face or a name to the evil. It’s like a master puppeteer is orchestrating the show but isn’t seen on stage…who is it? As Hathin and her allies work through theories and follow leads this invisibile evil becomes all the more terrifying. One of my favorite books of the year. Author: Francis Hardinge
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