Macmillan ­Audio. 2020. 959p. $44.99. ISBN 9781250771667.
Gr 8 Up–Shae lost her younger brother to the mysterious blue plague a few years ago. Coupled with her father’s death when his heart gave out, and her mother becoming mute through grief, her existence is bleak. The area where she and her mother struggle to raise sheep is plagued by drought, and the regular visits by bards who expect an ample tribute further strain everyone’s livelihood. It’s a hard existence, quickly made even worse when she discovers her mother’s body. The murder weapon is an unusual dagger. When the weapon and body vanish and the local authorities deny that anything happened, it galvanizes Shae to make the long and perilous trek to High House, home of the mysterious Cathal and the bards who she hopes can grant her a Telling that might reveal the truth about her mother’s death. Instead, she’s taken in and offered training as a bard, a choice that pulls her ever deeper into a convoluted web of secrets and deception where knowing whom to trust becomes a major challenge. The deeper she goes into the maze of intrigue, the more she learns about the goings-on at High House, the truth about her mother’s death, and how she became a target. This book will grab listeners and pull them into a frightening, twisty tale. Narrator Emily Shaffer makes the listener’s journey into this world a smooth one.
VERDICT A good choice for libraries where dark fantasy and dystopian tales are popular.

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