From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9–A challenging high fantasy for those who can keep straight the many details and forces, and who don't mind a good bit of violence. Clovermead Wickward, the 12-year-old daughter of a country innkeeper, dreams of adventure. When a traveling stranger comes to the inn and teaches her sword fighting, her dreams become desires. Shortly thereafter, a nun of the Lady Moon visits and reveals a vision in which the girl discovers a long-lost object. When Clovermead finds a brooch, her father is clearly upset and advises her to keep it hidden. Not long after, a bear tooth with unknown powers comes into her possession and she adds it to the leather cord she wears around her neck. These things foretell a great change in the Wickwards' lives. Clovermead learns that her father stole a gem from the ruler of a nearby kingdom. When his past crime is uncovered, father and daughter set out on a journey to undo the wrong and to find a safe haven. The trip takes them through a variety of trials, including an attack by bears during which Clovermead discovers her uncanny ability to communicate with them and her bear tooth's strange powers. The second half of the story takes on a higher intensity. The tooth draws blood and strength from its victim while making itself almost irresistible to Clovermead. She is caught up in a fierce and gruesome struggle between the nuns of Lady Moon and the evil followers of Lord Ursus and must decide which of the forces deserves her loyalty. The map of the Lands of Lady Moon is very useful. Excellent characterization and a well-developed story make for an intricate and action-packed adventure.–Jane G. Connor, South Carolina State Library, Columbia
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 6-9. When 14-year-old Clovermead idly picks up a bear tooth dropped by a visitor to her father's inn, she begins to experience fleeting episodes of transformation. Fur sprouts, claws extend, and she is gripped by bloodlust. The tooth binds her to Lord Ursus, the dark power behind a savage cult of bear worshipers. Her animal nature becomes increasingly difficult to keep in check, especially after an upsetting revelation about her father's past stirs feelings of betrayal, anger, and fear. Randall's decision to incubate dark forces in his heroine, rather than casting her unambiguously on the side of goodness, puts an intriguing spin on the otherwise archetypal fantasy plot. Though the ornate vocabulary ("his tatterdemalion jerkin") and dense blocks of mannered dialogue ("From where in Linstock do you hail?") will present a challenge for all but the most fluent readers, those who persist will find that the pace picks up about halfway through, once Clovermead's grand destiny begins to crystallize. The book's striking cover, by Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon, will entice genre fans. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved