Sunday, June 13, 2010


The Owl Keeper

by Christine Brodien-Jones

As this novel starts, it is not clear how much the world is like ours and how much is set in another, very different reality. I'm not much a reader of fantasies or dystopian literature, and liked how this left some of that misty at first, and slowly revealed how much the world had changed in this story. There is an interesting blend of old stories, of folklore nearly lost, and a darkness to the main character's world that add to the moodiness.

You see, he is told that he is allergic to sunlight, and kept hidden away indoors, so that he only roams at all in the dark of night. he receives injections regularly from a doctor, and has a guardian who looks after him, for his parents are working nearly always, and he seldom sees them at all.

As we start to learn about silver owls that had once been revered but were now considered enemies to be destroyed, he also meets a strange girl who appears to live just as far outside of the bounds of normalcy as he does, and they form an instant bond. He is attracted to her fearless fierceness, and they start to explore and question, making some horrifying discoveries about the world and the plans that are soon to be completed. They decide that they are the only ones who understand what is coming, and that they must act, even if their mission is nearly hopeless, and based on half-remembered mythology. They set out on a quest, as it were, fending off dangers human and not on the way, and find surprising resolution and renewal.

This book is very much in the tradition of quest tales, but is told beautifully, with a dreamy quality that mutes the more horrifying parts just enough, and keeps the sense of mystery nicely. There is some lovely bits of poetry tucked in, and a warming feeling of love for this boy, even among terrible, dark times, that makes this especially lovely.

Even though I am not generally a fan of this genre, I really loved this book.

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