Sunday, August 23, 2009

Long Night Dance by Betsy James

Series:The Seeker Chronicles Book 1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Copyright: 1989
Pages: 224
Book Source: Library borrow

Fifteen-year-old Kat is more her father's housekeeper than his daughter. Just like all Upslope women, Kat is required to stay close to the hearth and as far away from Downshore and its savage people as possible. Kat must remain respectable -- and that means covering her wild red hair, finding a husband to care for, and never singing, swimming, or dancing. But Kat knows there must be more to life -- she can feel it in her heart. She can hear the call -- the sound of drums beating, drawing her to the forbidden beach. When Kat can no longer resist the call, she discovers what she thinks is a fatally injured seal washed up on the shore. Instead, she has found a Rig, one of a charmed race of mythical seal people. The only way to save this mysterious man is to defy her father and her community and seek aid in Downshore. But does Kat have the strength to stand on her own?

I was captivated by this original, easy-to-read tale, written beautifully in a haunting, poetic style. It's the story of a girl's coming of age, her quest for something better in life and the price that's paid for wanting more. Kat's 'awakening' takes place in a world of opposing culture & views; hatred and understanding, right and wrong, prejudice & acceptance, duty and freedom, land and sea.

Kat is the child of a scandolous marriage between a Hill woman & an Upslope man. She has cared for her father & brother since the death of her mother but when she finds Nall, a Rig, her restrictive life changes forever. Despite fear & prejudice Kat is determined to save the injured man.

Betsy James creates vivid pictures, you can clearly imagine the windswept shores, the sea calling, the haunting Rigi song & the freedom of dancing at Long Night. I really want to see if Kat gets a HEA with Nall so I'll definitely be following her story in Dark Heart & Listening at the Gate.

About the Author: I knew very little about Betsy James & wanted to find out more, the copy of Long Night Dance I picked up from the library was published in 2005 but I knew the story was first published much earlier. The origins of The Seeker Chronicles is a fascinating story. When she was 12, Betsy heard the the folksong, The great Silkie.

"In the lore of Scotland, Ireland, and Norway, "silkies," or "selchies," are a mysterious tribe of seals that come out of the sea, take off their skins, and are human. One verse of that song begins in much the same way as the Rigi's song:" I am a man upon the land, I am a silkie on the sea.

Betsy felt compelled to tell the story of a seal man and & a land-bound girl & being an illustrator, decided to tell the story in paintings. She painted every morning for almost 2 years, resulting in 315 watercolors called The Morning Series. They eventually became THE SEEKER CHRONICLES: Long Night Dance, Dark Heart & Listening at the Gate.

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

This month on The Eclectic Reader you could win Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong OR The White Queen by Philippa Gregory OR Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink. Check this blog post for details. International entrants welcome.


  1. The cover is absolutely captivating and so is the story. I love the sound of the descriptive language used to descrive the sea. Definitely one for me. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great Review.
    I'm adding this to my list. I like that you add all the extra info on the author in your reviews.

  3. I agree, the cover is gorgeous. This one sounds very interesting...

  4. Great review Sheree, I'll have to read this one!

  5. This sounds very good. I love how you included Betsy's inspiration, it sounds so beautiful and romantic that she was compelled to write these stories =)

    I'll definitely be picking this up =)

  6. Great review and I love-love that cover!

  7. This one truly sounds fantastic. I haven't heard of it but now I have to add it on my Goodreads!!! I love that painting too.

  8. I have always liked the stories about seal people. Sounds like good YA then. Now I got really intrigued, I hope the library picks up this book

  9. Yummy! I like this one. Never singing, dancing or swimming must feel like death to a teenager. I would love to read this one. I'm writing it in my notebook. Great review.

  10. In love with a silky. That's part of their charm isn't it?
    Great review and thanks for the recommendation.

  11. Love the cover! Definitely searching for this. Thanks!


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