It's for a book I actually hadn't heard of until someone contacted me asking me if I'd be interested in reading, and the concept sounded so interesting I HAD to give it a try--especially after I saw the gorgeous cover: DARKBEAST, by Morgan Keyes
Here's how the publisher describes it:
A girl’s love for her raven may put her life in jeopardy in this gripping tale.
In Keara’s world, every child has a darkbeast—a creature that takes dark emotions like anger, pride, and rebellion. Keara’s darkbeast is Caw, a raven, and Keara can be free of her worst feelings by transferring them to Caw. He is her constant companion, and they are magically bound to each other until Keara’s twelfth birthday. For on that day Keara must kill her darkbeast—that is the law. Refusing to kill a darkbeast is an offense to the gods, and such heresy is harshly punished by the feared Inquisitors.
But Keara cannot imagine life without Caw. And she finds herself drawn to the Travelers, actors who tour the country performing revels. Keara is fascinated by their hints of a grand life beyond her tiny village. As her birthday approaches, Keara readies herself to leave childhood—and Caw—behind forever. But when the time comes for the sacrifice, will she be able to kill the creature that is so close to her? And if she cannot, where will she turn, and how can she escape the Inquisitors?
Sounds awesome, right? Well, I can assure you, IT IS.
Sometimes I have a harder time with "high fantasy" books like this, where the world is completely separate from our own. They can feel a little too foreign for me to really connect. But DARKBEAST strikes the perfect balance between the fantastical and the familiar and makes the world completely relatable. Of course it also helps that the idea of a darkbeast is just so freaking cool--I dare anyone who reads this to not want a darkbeast of their own (though, um... don't sign me up for a spider... *shudder*)
I loved Caw and his hilarious, insatiable hunger for treats. I loved Keara and her stubborn bravery. I loved the mythos of the world, and the structure of the society, with its common villagers, alluring Travelers, and terrifying Inquisitors. I loved the lyrical style of the writing, which reminded me (in the best way possible) of Shannon Hale. Basically, I loved this book, and am so happy someone pointed it out to me.
Which is why I wanted to spotlight it for all of you. I'm afraid to say too much more and spoil any of the awesomeness for you. So I'll end by saying if you're looking for something funny and sweet and refreshingly different, DARKBEAST is the perfect book for you.
And to make sure at least one of you gets a chance to read it, I'm giving away a SIGNED hardcover to one lucky winner.
If you would like to enter, leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm pacific time on Saturday, September 22nd. I'll draw one random winner and post their names on Sunday, September 23rd. International entries welcome!
For more awesome middle grade recommendations, check out these other MMGMs floating around the blogosphere.*
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)
NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen posts ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me ahead of time