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Clovermead: In the Shadow of the Bear Hardcover – May 25, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry; 1st edition (May 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689866399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689866395
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,279,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

You can find my Clovermead web-page at


This has a fair bit of information about me, and about the Clovermead books.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When I first picked up this book, I wasn't sure what to expect. The market has been flooded with heroine-takes-charge kind of books which, after a while, tend to run together.
Randall has a beautiful way with words; reading Clovermead is a pleasure, not just an adventure. Clovermead, our protagonist, is well-drawn and engaging. The overarching battle in this story is one between the nuns of Lady Moon and the bear-priests of Lord Ursus, but everyone, including Clovermead, get swept up in the conflict leading to unforeseen results.
The heros, the enemies, and those that play both sides are all complex characters, and the plot line doesn't miss a beat.
Overall, a very fun read.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book thoroughly entertaining and highly recommend it to anyone in the mood for a whimsical, exciting, articulate read. David Randall clearly has a gift for creative writing. The quality of Clovermead brings to mind fantasy classics like Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. Can't wait for a sequel.
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Format: Hardcover
Clovermead, a twelve year old girl with tomboyish fantasies, in a wild land before firearms, is soon swept up in malevolent plots and a raging war --between rival kingdoms and rival gods --of which, astonishingly, only she proves to be the key to resolution. Her once beloved father fails her as a protector and as a moral example. Her new barbarian friend Sorrel is really kind and helpful, but no omnipotent superman. Snuff, the evil priest of the evil Bear god, Ursus, is ominously sardonic, but it's no joke when he's after Clovermead. The monstrous Bear god is genuinely nightmarish when his tooth is in Clovermead's mouth, and his will begins to take over Clovermead's mind. High up in the icy north, the benevolent goddess, Lady Moon, does not directly drive events, but...? The story begins in Clovermead's childhood home in the chill of autumn, and unrolls in desperate flights through dangerous wilds and more dangerous people in the terrible cold of winter, in the shadow of the Bear. It warms us, too, when Clovermead is at last under the covers in a safe, warm bed before a toasty fire.

David Randall can devise and tell a rousing tale, fantastic but realistic. His characters are no wooden emblems, but are complex and divided as we are. (Even the Bear god develops an admiration for Clovermead, who is growing up fast.) His language is varied, supple and effective; he writes neither down nor up for readers who may be twelve, eighteen or eighty. His evocations of nature, and hints about morality and religion, don't obtrude in the tale, but deepen it. A seizing story. A fine book!
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By A Customer on June 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Clovermead is an excellent read. The heroine is both believable and likable and really does seem to be the age she is written as. Everything she does makes sense and has its own logic - the decisions she makes stem from her character, not from the demands of the plot. This is true of most of the adults in the book as well. The book is also very well-paced. Digressions into the backgrounds of other characters are also interesting and flow naturally from the story.
The surprise at the end didn't actually surprise me, but it should still be a genuine surprise for those in its targeted age group. And for the kids who do get it beforehand, they will probably feel proud of themselves for getting it, and not let down by figuring it out early.
Overall, it's a good, tight, and engrossing narrative. It feels neither contrived nor cobbled together like many other fantasy books I have read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was substituting at a local school and having a very, very slow day. I found this book lying on a shelf in the teacher's room and for lack of anything better to do, I started reading. My goodness what a lucky find this one was! I had no idea what the story was about when I started but must admit that before three pages were read I was completely hooked.

I note that this work is targeted for the teen and preteen crowd which is quite misleading. Yes, it is perfectly appropriate for this particular age but were I the publisher I probably would have extended the reading age level to at least 102. This is a great example of what we are seeing more and more of...age crossover books.

Basically this is a story set in a world; a medieval world where magic, religion, myth, legend, and reality are rather mixed. The heroine of our story is a young girl who has a bent for adventure and deep down wants to be a warrior. The story is hung on the conflict between the benevolent goddess, Lady Moon and her nuns, and the supposedly evil good, Ursus, and his rather evil henchman Snuff, the chief priest. This is the story of a young girl caught up in a war she does not understand but who is THE key player in this conflict between good and evil. This is the kind of story that contains a spoiler in almost every chapter so it is rather difficult to cover plot. I will say though that the story moves quite well, is captivating and in a very whimsical way, examines questions which are quite pertinent to our day and to our world.

There is plenty of action in this work; much to do with swords and battle, yet it would be a mistake to stick this story in the Conan type blood fest so many of this genre fall into. The story is much deeper and contains some very surprising twists.
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