From School Library Journal
Grade 7-12-- These people-living-on-a-doomed-volcanic-island may have Greek-sounding names, but they are not Greeks, and this is not Atlantis, Townsend carefully explains in a prefatory note. So here readers are in Townsend's schema, even though some of the dialogue would lead them to swear that they were in Britain in 1989. Eleni, with her atypically black hair and blue eyes (nobles have blond hair and blue eyes; plebians have black hair and dark eyes), is the Messenger. And it has been prophesied that the Messenger will save the people of Eleni's isle from oppression and starvation and see the Living God. Eleni sets off for the home of the Living God and the royal family, even though she is not a believer. She travels in the company of Andreas, a believer, and Nikos, who wants to see "a bit of life" and make his fortune singing. Eleni sees the Living God but doesn't become a believer, and she learns that she is the daughter of the king. A lot happens: "All this kinging and godding," is what Eleni calls it. One keeps reading to find out what happens next, and readers will probably be willing to accept the few points of convenient coincidence (what really happens to Nikos when he is snatched away on one page and re-appears out of the blue about 130 pages later). There is some fine, even delectable, active narration in the first two chapters: ". . .Eleni. . .added a few remarks about his appearance and parentage. The man compared her to various female animals, indicating that the latter were cleaner and physically more attractive." But Townsend then slips into reportage in which readers merely observe and are asked to imagine that Eleni in fact becomes the Living God. And yet when asked about her beliefs, she replies: "I just honestly don't know." Could one remain unaffected by that variety of religious experience? In the end, this narrative distancing leaves readers as unaffected as Eleni. Townsend entertains with this fantastic adventure, but shouldn't all this kinging and godding signify something?--: Christina L. Olson, Beverly Hills Public Library
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.