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Vessel Hardcover – September 11, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-Once each century, the desert deities inhabit the bodies of human vessels, bringing health and prosperity to their tribes. Liyana has trained all her life for this honor. But when she fails to summon her goddess, her tribe abandons her lest she bring them misfortune. She is rescued by trickster god Korbyn, who informs her that five gods are missing. Joined by three other vessels, Liyana and Korbyn set out to rescue them from an ambitious emperor who hopes to use the captive deities to gain control over the desert and its people. To do so, Liyana must defy taboo by learning magic. She must also confront the emperor himself if she hopes to save her friends, her people, and her gods from an uncertain fate. But can she do so without sacrificing herself? Durst has crafted a unique fantasy world populated with dangerous creatures and strong characters and woven together with magic. Liyana's inner struggle between upholding tradition and her own desire to live is obvious throughout. However, the third-person narrative gives her plight a somewhat detached feel. Additionally, the plot moves slowly at times. Nevertheless, the story is solid and will appeal to fans of romantic fantasy.-Alissa J. Bach, Oxford Public Library, MIα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Liyana is a vessel, the chosen one, nurtured, trained, and offered up by her clan for a great honor: giving her life so their goddess, Bayla, may return to earth to inhabit her body. But the goddess does not return. At the end of her day of sacrifice, Liyana is still alive, her clan having left her alone, disgraced, and in grave danger in the desert. Vessel is the read-alike for your Hunger Games–obsessed teens. From the quest to find the other clans’ spurned vessels, to the two attractive love interests, to the intelligent, independent young heroine, this folkloric fantasy, while harkening to that ever-popular novel and movie, is unique in its own web of clever, complex characters and attention-absorbing adventure. Its setting alone is so vital that it becomes another character, a part of the action. Readers will feel the desert heat, the earth-numbing droughts, the vicious sandstorms and resulting sandwolves, and the bizarre sensations of a goddess living within the body of its human vessel. Brilliantly riveting, Vessel’s only disappointment is its single volume, a fate that relegates Liyana, her lovers, and her friends to their own vessel, a single book. Grades 7-12. --Frances Bradburn

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 630L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442423765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442423763
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sarah Beth Durst is the author of ten fantasy novels for children, teens, and adults, including CONJURED, VESSEL, and DRINK SLAY LOVE. Her next book for kids, THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, comes out in November 2015 from HMH/Clarion Books. Sarah was awarded the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature and has been a finalist for SFWA's Andre Norton Award three times. She is a graduate of Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her ill-mannered cat. For more information, visit her at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Evie Seo TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Gorgeously imagined world with rich and flavourful cultural tapestry, characters you will root for, a seemingly impossible quest of epic proportions, and a conclusion that will leave you breathless and heartbroken - Vessel has all that and more! This sweeping tale mixes adventure, romance, drama and enough eye-popping sorcery to earn this book a place on every fantasy fan's shelf. It's definitely one of 2012 must-reads!

Once every hundred years, the goddess of the Goat Clan (Bayla) is summoned from the dreaming to ensure that her clan survives the next century. Her soul fills a human body - a vessel - to work the magic that brings rain to the dessert, increase the herds and make the oasis green again. Without the help of her magic, people wouldn't be able to survive in the ruthless, desolate desert that is their homeland.

For centuries, people of the dessert have been summoning gods and goddesses and for centuries they've been following the same sacred ritual: the dreamwalk would chose the vessel for the goddess, preparations would be made and, finally, the ceremony would take place during which the goddess would take over the vessel's body, killing the vessel's soul in the process. Chosen to be Bayla's vessel, Liyana is ready for her sacrifice. For years she's been training in preparations for this moment. The goddess does not come, though, and Liyana - accused of being unworthy of the deity - is abandoned by her clan and left to die alone in the dessert. Heartbroken and desperate, she is found by Korbyn (a trickster god inside of his vessel), who tells her that her goddess did not, in fact, abandon her, but was captured and imprisoned. And five other gods shared her fate.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By SavyLeArtist on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. WOW. I...where do I even begin?

This is the crowning glory of Sarah's career. By far the greatest novel she's ever written. How can I even begin to talk about it? This is Sabriel levels of good, on a whole other playing field from Y.A.; just a pure fantasy adventure.
Let me put it this way: I only have two days off from work and sleep is precious to me. I stayed up until 5 am until I had finished this book, crying, laughing and nail biting all the way.


There's honestly no good way to begin, besides READ THIS BOOK. Liyanna, thank god, is not your typical world weary, hardened heroine that's really just a boy character in a girl's body that has ~extra emotions~. Liyanna is just a girl, practical and strong--but you discover this strength over the course of the book. It's so beautiful that you can watch how this girl turns from vessel and master over the novel's story. It's coming of age that rattle's her entire country. Slipping into her voice is just like waking up, as if she's not a character anymore, but your friend sitting right beside you and telling you of this adventure she had many moons ago. In the end, when she finally takes true charge of her own fate, it isn't droll and self righteous, making you sigh at this Sarah Conner knock off. It feels exactly like watching Bruce Wayne climb out of the pit of darkness.

It's magnificent.

She doesn't have to break tradition and give her history, religion and culture a big middle finger to "find her own strength". Those things are her strength. She continually has respect for them, even if she must defy them. She's so completely and utterly human, she lives and breathes right off the page.

And Korbyn.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa on May 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Rating: 5 stars
Source: Copy gifted by a friend

Summary (from Goodreads):

Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. She will dance and summon her tribe's deity, who will inhabit Liyana's body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But when the dance ends, Liyana is still there. Her tribe is furious--and sure that it is Liyana's fault. Abandoned by her 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. 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.

What I Liked:

Can I just say "everything" and be finished? Yes? Please. Because seriously, this book was THAT GOOD. I was shocked that I liked it that much. I had a feeling that I would enjoy it, but LOVE? Five stars? Wow. This book blew me away, in the best of ways. The gods and goddesses thing had me kind of skeptical, because I generally don't enjoy books that deal with deities. I don't know why. But I really, really liked this one, as you can see.
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