As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

October 9, 2010

KETURAH AND LORD DEATH, by Martine Leavitt, 2006

Keturah And Lord DeathKeturah Reeve is a beautiful young woman of sixteen who lives with her grandmother in a cottage near the forest owned by Lord Temsland. Keturah is renowned in the village for her captivating storytelling, and this beautifully woven novel is a response to a request from Keturah's eager audience for yet another of her fascinating tales. She tells of her experience of being lost in the forest, her eventual meeting with a dark figure on horseback who is Lord Death and her bargaining with him for her life-and for the lives of the villagers who are threatened by an onset of the plague.

Review by Stephanie Huang Porter - Amateur cook/baker. Professional Eater. Joyful Mother. Irreverent Friend. Writer. Aspiring Author. Lover of Life.

I swear this is not a bodice ripper. I know it looks like it from the cover. But you are not supposed to judge a book by it's cover. Although, Lord Death is kinda hot.

I picked up Keturah and Lord Death, by Martine Leavitt, at a writer's conference a few years ago. I met the young adult author at the conference and asked her to sign the book for my daughters. She wrote, “For K and M, How fortunate you are to have a mother who loves books. Read on!”

That simple note makes me feel so good. The lyrical tale that Leavitt weaves within the pages of Keturah and Lord Death stays with me. I look forward to when my girls, currently just four and six years old, will one day enjoy the magic woven in Leavitt’s words.

The prologue reads, “Keturah tell us a story, one of your tales of faerie or magic...” Keturrah responds to her audience by saying, “I will tell you a story that is all of those things, a story of magic and love, of daring and death, and one to comfort your heart. It will be the truest story I have ever told. Now listen, and tell me if it is not so.”

Keturah is a sixteen year old girl who lives in a very humble village, Tide-by-Rood. She is well-acquainted with death, and living hand-to-mouth, but she is a woman filled with hope and love. She was raised by her grandparents, who simply embodied deep love. It is to their credit that Keturah is a woman who exists not just for herself, but to serve, and love others.

In fact there are many wise words from Keturah’s grandmother that I am excited for my daughters to read, and hopefully internalize. Below are a few of my favorites:

    “Demonstrate talent and you will still be loved by a husband when beauty has faded.”

    “Wear our souls out in love.”

    “Subdue the body and marry the soul. Look for a soul-and-heart love.”

I am giddy when a book is loaded with imagery and symbolism. In Keturah and Lord Death there are beautiful, unmistakable images in these pages. The woods, The Hart, Lord Death, the plague, the villagers, and Keturah’s own embodiment of saving her village. I am dying to share all the rich symbols, meaning, discussion about them, but I will restrain myself.

I’ve read this book over and over.  I smile wistfully at the same parts. I cry at the same passages. Reading this book is like eating a satisfying, meal filled with surprising spices, and skill of the creator.

Reading this as a mother made me quite emotional towards the end of this book. In the acknowledgments Leavitt writes of the love she has for her youngest sister, who died many years ago, at age eleven, of cystic fibrosis. Leavitt wrote, “Now as a mother and grandmother, I realize what a long journey dying must be for a child to make alone. I wish I could have walked with her a little way. This book is my way of doing so.”

Keturah and Lord Death is a treasure. It is a refreshing story in the YA genre. Within its pages there is magic, love, daring, death, comfort, and truth. We all are living our own stories. Reading Keturah’s story, allows us to see our own.

Market: Young Adult
Language: Mild
Sensuality: Mild
Violence: Mild
Mature Themes: Death, Love, Sacrifice

Book formats:
Keturah And Lord Death (hardcover)

To learn more about the author's other books, visit: Martine Leavitt


Ashley said...

Oh! I loved this book! It was so well written! I definitely will need to reread this one. And what a great inscription!

Anonymous said...

This one is on my shelf, just waiting to be picked up. I might just bump it up after reading this!

Kim said...

This book sounds wonderful! I'll add it to my queue. Thanks for a great review!