I will announce the winners on MONDAY, May 23rd, so check back to see if you've won. =) Goodluck to all!
Kathleen Duey is a prolific writer, having written over 80 books for K-YA. Her works include the MG series American Diaries and Survival, chapter book series The Unicorn's Secret, and its companion series, The Faeries' Promise.
Skin Hunger was her first YA novel and the first installment in her Resurrection of Magic Trilogy. It was a 2007 National Book Award finalist and a nominee for the 2008 Locus Award for Best Young Adult book and Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best. Sacred Scars is the second installment and listed in the 2009 Kirkus Best of YA Book.
The author's website can be found here, and her blog here.
Here are the blurbs for Skin Hunger and Sacred Scars:
Sadima lives in a world where magic has been banned, leaving poor villagers prey to fakes and charlatans. A "magician" stole her family's few valuables and left Sadima's mother to die on the day Sadima was born. But vestiges of magic are hidden in old rhymes and hearth tales and in people like Sadima, who conceals her silent communication with animals for fear of rejection and ridicule. When rumors of her gift reach Somiss, a young nobleman obsessed with restoring magic, he sends Franklin, his lifelong servant, to find her. Sadima's joy at sharing her secret becomes love for the man she shares it with. But Franklin's irrevocable bond to the brilliant and dangerous Somiss traps her, too, and she faces a heartbreaking decision.
Centuries later magic has been restored, but it is available only to the wealthy and is strictly controlled by wizards within a sequestered academy of magic. Hahp, the expendable second son of a rich merchant, is forced into the academy and finds himself paired with Gerrard, a peasant boy inexplicably admitted with nine sons of privilege and wealth. Only one of the ten students will graduate — and the first academic requirement is survival.
Sadima's and Hahp's worlds are separated by generations, but their lives are connected in surprising and powerful ways in this brilliant first book of Kathleen Duey's dark, complex, and completely compelling trilogy.
Sadima, Franklin, and Somiss, driven out of Limòri by a suspicious fire, are living in a cave hidden within the cliffs that overlook the city. Somiss is convinced the dark passages of the caves were the home of ancient magicians, and his obsession with restoring magic deepens. Sadima dreams of escape -- for her, for Franklin, and for the orphaned street boys Somiss has imprisoned in a crowded cage. Somiss claims he will teach these boys magic, that they will become his first students, but Sadima knows he is lying.
Generations later, Hahp is struggling to survive the wizards' increasingly dangerous classes at the Limòri Academy of Magic. He knows the fragile pact he has forged with his secretive roommate, Gerrard, will not be enough to put an end to the evil. It will take all the students acting together to have any chance of destroying the academy. Building trust, with few chances to speak or plan, will be almost impossible, but there is no choice.
Why I Recommend:
First off, these books have a dark, gritty feel to them. There's also swearing--more so when Hahp's situation worsens at the Academy. So if you find swear words and gritty settings offensive, these books might not be for you. Which would be a shame, but everyone's entitled to their own preferences and the book business is, as always, a subjective business.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'll tell you why I like Duey's books. (By the way, I stalk her blog to see if she has finished the last installment. I am not patient. And if you had read the other two, you'd be impatient for the last one as well.)
The story is split into two POVs: that of a young girl named Sadima, and Hahp, a boy who exists centuries after Sadima's time. In Sadima's world, magic is lost and banned. In Hahp's world, magic is everywhere--though only the wealthy could afford them, like the flying horse carriages his father owned and paid for. Transcending these two worlds are Somiss and Franklin, a nobleman's son and his servant searching for magic in Sadima's world, and teaching magic in Hahp's world.
Duey's characters and the relationships between them are complex and intriguing. There's Sadima and Franklin's love in conflict with Franklin and Somiss' relationship. Then we continue to see this relationship through Hahp's eyes.
Magic holds a central theme, but it is the dark, ugly side of magic that we see most of the time. There is cruelty and disregard for human life, atrocity and sadism, and all for the name of magic. It is a compelling read--both novels actually, because these are not stand-alone books. It's the kind of story that makes you question things, makes you think. (I like these kinds of stories.)
I read Skin Hunger in one day and when I was done, I was itching to get to the library ASAP to get Sacred Scars. But it was already past midnight, so you can imagine my restless night waiting for the day to come. Sacred Scars did not disappoint, though I was very much disappointed to find out that there was not a third book yet. Hence the stalking of Ms. Duey's blog (I'm not normally a stalking type of girl. I pinky swear.)
The world of Limòri is fascinating and it's easy to get sucked into its vortex. I love complex characters, especially when they are put in moral dilemmas. If you're up for a dark, compelling read, explore Ms. Duey's Restoration of Magic novels.
Praise for Skin Hunger:
"This double-narrative fantasy…deepens into a potent and affecting story of struggle.… Only one boy will live to graduate as a wizard, and they’re forbidden to help each other survive… Darkly resonant."
Praise for Sacred Scars:
“…Thrumming with dense, meaningful tension…through despair, oppression and rare moments of hope. The text so successfully portrays Hahp’s experience in this grueling, cold-blooded wizard “academy”—isolation, starvation, abuse and constant, unsolvable puzzles—that readers may absorb his strain, confusion and desolation themselves… unwaveringly suspenseful.”