Friday, December 5, 2008

Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey

Main Characters: Sadima and Hahp
Location: undefined
Time period: undefined, but Sadima's story feels Medieval, while Hahp's is hundreds of years later
Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy
Series: A Resurrection of Magic #1

Sadima lives in a world without real magic, though there are hucksters and charlatans aplenty. When Sadima is born, a magician robs the family instead of helping, leaving the mother to die. Her father and brother then distrust any talk of magic, so Sadima keeps secret her ability to understand animals. Then one day she encounters Franklin, a young man who also has a talent for magic and who convinces her to come to the city and join him and his master, Somiss, who are trying to revive the old ways. Sadima soon discovers that Somiss is a abusive master, but cannot convince Franklin to leave him.

Hundreds of years later, Hahp is sent by his father to the magic academy to learn to be a wizard. There are ten boys joining the academy at the same time, and they discover a strange and cruel world where they are barely taught but left to discover things on their own--with the admonition that they will learn or die. Literally. They are forbidden to help each other, but some of the boys develop small ways to give hints. Oh, and did I mention that Franklin and Somiss are running the academy?

Sadima and Hahp's stories are told in alternating chapters, which is a format I usually dislike--it seems that just as one story begins to get interesting, the author switches to the other. But Duey carries it off well. Sshe doesn't use a lot of cliff-hangers; each chapter is complete in itself so the switch between Sadima and Hahp's narratives is not jarring. And though they live hundreds of years apart, there are definite connections between the two characters--something Sadima learns in one chapter can shed light on Hahp's story later on.

Because this is the first in a trilogy, there are many questions left unanswered. I look forward to the rest of the books and the answers that they contain.

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