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The romance is intense, the writing is startling, and the story is spellbinding--and it is as difficult to turn away from as the tales beautiful Keturah tells to the people of her village, Tide-by-Rood. But one day Keturah must use her storytelling skills with quite a different audience. Lost and hungry after following a stately hart through the forest, Keturah encounters Lord Death, who is ready to take her. Like Scheherazade, Keturah spins a story that she leaves unfinished and extracts from Lord Death a promise that if she finds her true love in a day, she can go free. But Lord Death is falling in love with her, and as the villagers begin to sense her alliance with this horrifying figure, her life twists and turns on itself. This novel gets so many things just right. Leavitt brings together a large cast of characters, but she personalizes them and weaves their stories into Keturah's, making it richer, denser, and more intricate. The plotting moves in and out of the everyday and the supernatural, but it's so finely tuned that the worlds seem one. Readers will be carried away on the wind of Leavitt's words, and few will be able to guess how she finally ends her story. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2006 Booklist
School Library Journal
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Gr 7 Up-At 16, Keturah is a poor peasant girl who constantly ponders her future. She has always been different from the other girls of the village and has unique but unrealized gifts. She has been raised by warm and loving grandparents, experiencing firsthand what a truly happy marriage is all about. The teen is committed to finding a suitable husband so she, too, can be happy but has not yet been successful. All this changes for her the day she follows the legendary hart deep into the forest and becomes lost. After three days of wandering aimlessly, she knows that she is about to die. Keturah is surprised to discover that Death is a strong, handsome lord to whom she immediately feels connected. Despite the fact that she is afraid, she challenges Lord Death, which is something he is not used to. She uses her storytelling skills to make him grant her a reprieve for one day. She spins a story of a love so pure that even Death cannot destroy it. He allows her to live another day on the condition that she come to him with an ending to the story and her true love. Keturah continues to delay the inevitable but in doing so learns much about herself and what she is truly capable of achieving. Along the way she also discovers that her true love was there beside her all along. This is a dark, but uplifting story combining elements of fantasy as well as romance. It has a gripping plot, strong characters, and a surprise ending that will intrigue readers.-Donna Rosenblum, Nassau Boces School Library System, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Leavitt (Heck Superhero) crafts a darkly gorgeous medieval fairy tale, deftly spun by Keturah, Tide-by-Rood's beautiful 16-year-old storyteller. Keturah was orphaned at birth, and her life, begun with Death, entwines with him ever after. Indeed, when she follows a prized, elusive hart into Lord Temsland's forest and loses her way, Lord Death comes for her. Like Scheherazade, with her gift for storytelling she beguiles him into allowing her a day's reprieve, then another and one more, weaving her own quest-finding her own true love-into installments of a tale within the tale. Leavitt also introduces some beguiling details: the heroine bargains with the village wise woman for a love charm-an enchanted eye that will indicate to Keturah her true love. The townsfolk find Keturah both villain and savior before the tale's finish, as she attempts to ward off tragedy within her beloved village. A few farcical plot twists lighten the tone, as Keturah's stalwart friends Gretta and Beatrice rush to uncover Keturah's mate (and wind up finding their own)-before Lord Death's deadline. Leavitt renders in Lord Death a character rivaling the finest gothic depictions, in her portrayal of a palpably sexual man whom Keturah both resists and embraces. Well-tuned narration, at once plainspoken and lyrical, conjures the sunny, brimming village at fair time, but also the volatility of a vulnerable peasantry and the encroaching forest's secrets. A fine achievement. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved