This atmospheric fantasy is, “from the gripping first line, a fast-paced, thought-provoking, and stirring story of sacrifice” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.
Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.
The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.
In this powerful and melancholy fantasy, Liyana, a child of the desert, does not rebel against her fate as a vessel a human whose mind is destined to die so that a goddess may occupy her body. Though Liyana is obedient, and her ritual performance is flawless, the goddess does not come, and her nomadic clan abandons her as unworthy. Unsure whether to try to live, she is still crouched at the empty campsite when a handsome, unearthly boy steps out of the sands. Korbyn claims to be one of the manifested gods and says that five of his kindred have been trapped, their rightful vessels left empty. He asks Liyana to help him gather the other vessels and right the wrong. Though this means death for her, Liyana remains dutiful and joins his quest. With strong folklore elements, a striking setting, and thoroughly imagined characters, Durst (Drink Slay Love) has woven a story that does not shy from the bawdy, violent, or pragmatic realities of life. Ages 12 up.