Beekeeper Marisol has been chosen as the new Chalice, destined to stand beside the Master and mix the ceremonial brews that hold the Willowlands together. But the relationship between Chalice and Master has always been tumultuous, and the new Master is unlike any before him.
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Robin McKinley has won various awards and citations for her writing, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown and a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword. Her other books include Sunshine; the New York Times bestseller Spindle's End; two novel-length retellings of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and Rose Daughter; and a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, The Outlaws of Sherwood. She lives with her husband, the English writer Peter Dickinson.From School Library Journal:
Grade 9 Up—The demesne of Willowlands is in a state of upheaval—great fissures in the earth have opened and swallowed livestock, fires have broken out across the land, the earthlines rumble in disquiet, the people are unsettled. The former Master of Willowlands, a reckless tyrant who reveled in his power and neglected his role, died heirless. His younger brother was sent away many years earlier to become a fire priest—a calling from which none return to the mortal realm. Yet, he is one year from completing his apprenticeship, and the Circle sends for him to heal his troubled land. Mirasol is the young beekeeper called to become Chalice, to bind together the Circle, the people, and the demesne into a unified entity. She has no training or experience, and the realm is so fractured that uniting it under the rule of a Master who is no longer completely human, and who can touch nothing without burning it, seems an impossible task. As delicately structured as the chambers of a honeycomb, this novel begs to be read slowly. The people of Willowlands are interesting and well crafted, and despite a conclusion that seems rushed and incomplete, this novel is a delight. Because this story is slow paced and does not happen in complete chronological order, reluctant readers will struggle with it. However, mature teens who long for beautiful phrases and descriptive writing will find themselves drinking in this rich fairy tale as if it were honey trickling down their throats.—Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
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