Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dark Heart by Betsy James

Series: The Seeker Chronicles Book 2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Copyright: 2005
Pages: 272
Book Source: Library borrow

Having fled the tryrannical rule of her father, sixteen-year old Kat now lives among her monther's people -- a society that is joyful and caring, as well as conformist and bound by superstition. Kat has lived her whole life by the sea, but this new world is all stone and sky. It is bare and spare and high, ringed by mountains. Kat has spend one year dutifully preparing for her initiation rite, a ceremony that involves a live bear. Kat is frightened and uncertain, but only by completing the ritual can she be accepted into the circle of women. But what of the young blind man she feels herself drawn to, who is handsome and artistic but also belligerent and scornful? And what of gentle Nall, the man she left behind?- book cover

Another poetic read as Kat's story continues, one year on from Long Night Dance. Set in Creek at the base of Dark Heart mountain we follow Kat's continuing journey of self discovery as she struggles to learn the ways of her dead mother's people. Hill country culture is steeped in myth, tradition and superstition and Kat must complete the ritual of "meeting her bear" to make the transition from childhood to adulthood & acceptance by the clan.

"Ouma, mother, eat my childhood. Make me beautiful and normal.
Make me a woman."

Kat's ambivalence is prominent throughout Dark Heart, she questions her love for Nall, the rigi she left in Downshore, and her emerging feelings for brothers Set and blind Raim. She is confused and overwhelmed by her desire to fit in but still wants to be accepted for who she is. The reader sees Kat's maturity slowly grow and develop as she realises that most choices and decisions come with consequences and a sacrifice of some sort.

"So there," said Kat. "I'm sick of hearing how things have to be. There are more ways to weave than anybody knows about, probably. That means there must be more ways to make water jars and more ways to be a woman or a man." page 172

Betsy James' writing is once again haunting and lyrical. The author creates a vivid, imaginative world, the culture & myths are intriguing without being overpowering and I think this series would be enjoyed by fantasy lovers over the age of 12. The Seeker Chronicles concludes with Listen at the Gate and I'm keen to see where Kat's journey takes her next.

Betsy James is the author and illustrator of many children and YA books. Visit her website for more information.

See my review for the first book in the Seeker Chronicles: Long Night Dance

This month on The Eclectic Reader you could win Fire by Kristen Cashore OR Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick OR Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Check this blog post for details. International entrants welcome.


  1. I haven't read this series yet :)
    There are so many series i need to read... where am i going to have time for ALL :) :)

  2. Hm, sounds good. I'd like to have a look at these books

  3. Another lovely review from Eclectic Reader Teddyree!

    I love the cover art on this novel, very thought provoking.

    I hope all is well with you..


  4. Hi :)
    Thank you for the great review.
    I agree with LEA, the cover art is beautiful & intriguing.
    I haven't heard of this series before.
    Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
    All the best,

  5. Teddy, Dark Heart sounds really good -- I haven't actually heard of it but I like the idea of it!

  6. Hi Teddyree!

    New author for me. Sounds like you've found another wonderful read. The story sounds almost mystical.

    Thanks for another great review!

    Dottie :)

  7. Veens ~ there aren't enough hours in the day for all the great series are there lol

    B ~ I think they are quite unusual, very different mythology.

    Lea ~ waving hello, nice to see you!

    RKCharron ~ this isn't an author that is widely read from what I've seen so it was nice to read something a little left field

    Sarbear ~ You definitely have to read this one in order. Only a trilogy so start with Long Night Dance if you decide to read this series.

    Dottie ~ yeah it was quite mystical, this one was good but I liked the setting of Long Night Dance more (it was seal mythology)

  8. Sounds like a really good one. I've come to understand that it's the romance side of YA that interests me. I really wasn't so sure of this fact until recently.

  9. I so need to get my hands on this sounds great and I loved your review of both of these books!!


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