From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9-- Zan Scarsdale is a worldly 16 and newly orphaned. Driving alone through the Vermont countryside, she wrestles with conflicting waves of grief, anger, and confusion. On an impulse, she leaves her car to wander into the woods, but she soon realizes that she is completely lost. She is found by an oddly dressed pair of children, and taken in by Eikoheh, an elderly weaver. Zan learns that she is with the Orathi, peaceful forest dwellers who are technologically primitive by 20th-century standards, but wise in the ways of dreams, spirit-gifts, and nonverbal communication. When the Orathi are threatened with forceful seizure of their land, Zan discovers that she, too, has a spirit-gift and a role to play in their fate. Her story becomes a heroic fantasy in the tradition of Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword (1982) and The Hero and The Crown (1984, both Greenwillow) , with a strong female lead complemented by sympathetic characters of both sexes and various tribes. As they quest, their progress is followed and perhaps aided, but never fully controlled, by the work growing on the loom of Eikoheh, the Orathi Dreamweaver. Eikoheh weaves on as they journey through the desert to Windsmeet "to ask a boon of the gods," then complete the task assigned by a faithless Trickster goddess, and return for her decree. But there the threads, of the tapestry and of the novel, are left hanging. The book offers likable and believable characters in a distinctive, original setting and a unique and well-plotted tale--except for the wrenchingly abrupt ending. Readers will identify with the adjustment problems of the youthful questers, sharing their triumphs and mourning their losses, but in leading them to care about the six travelers and their fate and then ending the book before it is fully revealed, Hilgartner plays a trick in the cruel tradition of the Trickster goddess she has created. --Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
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