Gr 6-9-It will take readers more than a few beats to find their bearings in this relentlessly inventive fantasy, but once they figure out the Lost (people who can send their senses out into the world and sometimes get lost from their bodies), the social relations among the colonized and colonizers of Gullstruck Island, and the physical world they inhabit, the story is gripping. Haithin is the nearly invisible viewpoint character, one of those people that you hardly realize is there, and the indispensable guide and interpreter of her sister, Arilou, who may or may not be one of the Lost. As members of a despised minority cast, the sisters are part of an elaborate scheme to convince outsiders of the worth of their village as a tourist attraction. Intrigue piles upon intrigue as the Lost are nearly exterminated and Haithin's people are blamed. Can the sisters survive the murderous crowds, fight their way through the jungles of Gullstruck, appease the violent volcanoes, and navigate the silly court life of the local ruler? Especially memorable are some of the secondary characters, including a traveling dentist who manipulates the masses while she drills teeth and a man who is nearly as unnoticeable as Haithin but who appears to be pulling the strings of state. Haithin's journey is, of course, epic. She faces hardship, tragedy, doubt, killer insects, and a river of lava and, in the end, becomes something of a myth herself. The author is as inventive with language as she is with social and cultural constructs. This novel is just plain fun.-Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"Brilliantly conceived, perfectly executed and utterly mesmerizing."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)