Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: McElderry Books
Publication Date: Sept. 11, 2012
Source: Finished copy from publisher
About the Book: In a desert world of sandstorms and sand-wolves, a teen girl must defy the gods to save her tribe in this mystical, atmospheric tale from the author of Drink, Slay, Love.
Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.
Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.
The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.
My Thoughts: I featured this book as a "Waiting on Wednesday" pick a few months ago. The gorgeous colors of the cover and the description of the story totally pulled me in. I mean, a teenaged girl on a quest to save her people and her gods? Set in a fantasy world? With a trickster god as company? These are the things awesome is made of. And then I read the first sentence: On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family's tent to see the dawn. I was immediately hooked.
And it just kept getting better. In Liyana's desert world the gods each choose a vessel every century. When the vessel is ready a ritual is preformed and the god takes over the body of their chosen vessel. In essence the person who used to be the vessel dies but the body lives on with the god inhabiting it. This concept intrigued me. What would that do to a person? Growing up knowing that when you come of age you will cease to exist for the good of your tribe? I loved meeting the different vessels... both those that are now inhabited by their god and those for whom their god never came.
While the main focus of the story is Liyana and Korbyn's quest to find the missing gods, we also get a glimpse at the neighboring empire. That land is doing just as poorly as the desert folk. Their young emperor is desperate to help his people. Although the characters don't know it, their quests will intersect. These two aspects were woven together so well. I really enjoyed seeing where it was all going and how the characters got there.
One final note, in Vessel there is a strong storytelling tradition in the desert tribes. I really loved hearing the stories Sarah Beth Durst created for her world and the ways the characters used them to relate to the others. It was pretty amazing :)
Vessel is a beautifully written and fascinating story. The writing, the adventure, the characters, the world... I just loved it all.
You can read the first two chapter of Vessel here.