Kobo :: Smashwords
Kita can meld song into stone. In a world with no written word, storytelling—the ability to meld (or magically impress) song into stone—is greatly honored. The village honors her master as their medicine man, but Kita knows he's secretly a sorcerer who practices black magic using drops of her blood. She fears he’ll use her beautiful gift for a killing spell, so she conceals it from him. Each day, his magic tightens around her neck like a rope. His spells blind the villagers, so they can’t see him for what he really is.
Not that anyone would want to help her. She was found in the forest as a baby and would have died if a village girl hadn't brought her home. But the villagers saw Kita's unusual coloring and decided she belonged to the mysterious tribe who lives in the forests of the volcano, a people feared for their mystical powers. So they fear her too. Now seventeen, she can barely admit her deepest longing: to know who she really is and where she belongs.
Then Pono, a young journeyman, arrives from the other side of the island. He's come to fulfill a pact between their villages: to escort a storyteller back to his village—a storyteller who'll be chosen at the great assembly. Finally, in Pono, Kita sees her one slim chance at freedom and she'll risk her life to take it.
A dark, twisty tale of sorcery, tummy-tingling romance, and adventure, inspired by the folklore of New Zealand's Māori people.
Dark and twisty is a good description of this story! I wasn't sure what to expect upon starting it. Really, I went in pretty blindly as to what it would even be about. This is not a bad thing! It just means that I was quite surprised where the story ended up taking me. :) Ms. Goldfinch weaves you into her world so subtly that you're hooked in before you know it! But I should warn you that it's not a light and sweet journey at all. Instead, it's gritty and hard and painful. This world doesn't pull any punches. On anybody.
Kita has been ostracized all her life, thus she's quite cynical and bitter in the beginning. Quite frankly, I had a hard time even liking her for the bigger portion of the book. She tends to anticipate that everyone will hate her automatically, so she tries to push them away first. Yet she's a contradiction, to the point that she doesn't even understand herself. And that's where I began to like her! She wanted so badly to have friends and family, yet she tried to deny that desire. I had sympathy for her frustration and wanted her to realize she was worthy of all of that. Thus, I was compelled to make sure she was going to get her happy ending because I really wanted her to have one! That's when I knew that Ms. Goldfinch had done her job well. She had me caring for this character and her journey, when I hadn't thought I ever would. A sign of a great writer! :)
There is romance here, but it's very quiet and mostly in the background for much of the book. The realities of this mysterious world make it so any happy endings are difficult and hard-won. And I have to admit that I couldn't always figure out why Pono liked her so well. She certainly wasn't much good at giving him any encouragement. That's not to say there weren't a few sweet moments between Pono and Kita however! ;) And I was rooting for them by the end.
Ms. Goldfinch's writing is very unique. It took me several chapters to adjust to her descriptions of this world around Kita. All the comparisons bugged me a bit in the first chapter, but as I got more into the story, it smoothed out and I no longer even noticed it. So basically, what happened with this book is I started it thinking it was too dark for me and I wasn't really going to like it. But somewhere along the way I was swept up in spite of myself! And by the time I finished the last page, I was in awe of the journey Ms. Goldfinch had laid out behind me. It really has the feel of a legend that's been passed down through generations. Kita's story is challenging and hard, yet it has an inner beauty that can only be experienced by reading it yourself. :)
The bird flew down again and hovered before me, its wings fluttering wildly. I grabbed a handful of pebbles and flung them at it. The hiri darted over my head. Singing out another trill, it flew up through the leaves and disappeared.
I gingerly felt the hot, aching spot on my forehead. When I drew my hand away, I saw a single drop of bright red blood glistening on my thumb. Ungrateful little bird. Shaking my head, I rinsed my burning hands in the stream and washed my face. When I felt my forehead again, I found nothing. It was as if the bird had never touched me.
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