Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Review: Vessel

By Sarah Beth Durst
Published 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry

Liyana has lived her entire life knowing her purpose - one day, her soul will depart and her body will be inhabited by her clan's goddess. Their goddess will then use the body to live amongst her people, spreading her magic and ensuring their survival. But, when they perform the ceremony, Liyana's goddess doesn't come. She doesn't understand - she did everything right! Outcast by her people, Liyana is bereft and alone - until Korbyn comes along. Korbyn, the trickster god, inhabiting his vessel, who spins a tale of imprisoned gods and goddesses that seems too crazy to be true. But is it? Liyana will do anything to discover the truth.

I was so thrilled to hear about this book - Sarah Beth Durst has been one of my favorite authors since I read Into the Wild about 4 years ago. I've loved everything of hers I've read thus far (though I still need to read two of her other books) and this one sounded absolutely fantastic. Additionally, it was getting good reviews and was being discussed as one of the best fantasy novels of the year. Naturally, that just made me even more eager to read it. So, I put it on hold as soon as I could at the library and greedily read as fast as I could when it came in. This book was not a disappointment. This book was everything I love about Durst's writing - beautiful phrases and lyrical descriptions, a fascinating and credible new world, and a strong, determined heroine who is not without her own struggles. I don't even know how to properly gush about this book - I'm just in awe of the creativity and craft that went into writing it. As a side note, I absolutely love this cover - it is so gorgeous and, I think, accurately depicts Liyana. I loved that the world in this book has a distinct Asian/Middle Eastern vibe - it makes it stand out from the plethora of fantasy based in a European or Western world. Many reviews I've seen have described a lack of characterization but I didn't feel that while I was reading. To me, each vessel had a distinct personality, and I enjoyed Liyana's character as well. Her dedication to her goddess is impressive and inspiring, but I found it even more interesting when she began to question her feelings for Korbyn and what Bayla's taking over her body would really mean. I loved the whole mythos behind the story and I loved Korbyn - I really enjoy trickster gods in my mythology stories. I loved discovering the legends and tales of the people and I thought the realization that Korbyn and the other gods come to was beautiful and very well-done. It gave the story a new depth. At times, the story was a bit repetitive as Korbyn and Liyana trek to the different clans to gather the other vessels, and I thought the romance, while very sweet and interesting, became a little too run-of-the-mill at the end. Overall, though, this was a beautiful book that I truly loved. Sarah Beth Durst continues to impress me!

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