Gullstruck Island/The Lost Conspiracy (alternate title)
By Frances Hardinge
Macmillan Children's Books: 2009. 502 pgs. Juvenile fiction.
In this mysterious, tense tangle of a story, nothing is quite what it seems to be. In an ancient, superstition-ridden colony known as the Lace, young Hathin acts as an interpreter for her sister, Arilou, the village's sole Lost. The Lost are rare, sought-after individuals with the power to set their minds free from their bodies to fly with the winds, aiding communication between communities and providing news and necessary warnings. When tragedy strikes the village unexpectedly in a focused attack on all Lost, Hathin and Arilou are forced to run for their lives, fleeing from more danger than they could ever imagine.
This book will make you breathless and cause your heart to both still in fear and swell with inspiration. The characters are so vivid and real that you can't help but be caught up in the terror and beauty of this book. Hathin is the most marvelous character; she is both timidity and courage, and determined and faltering together. She is what we all feel--the struggle between our natural tendency and the need to rise above it and be better. Hathin, however, succeeds. This book is packed with intricate, complicated characters and is truly an incredible read. Although the first few chapters are slow and take some patience--you are submerged quickly into a foreign culture and all its facets--you will be well rewarded with an amazing, involving, completely unique adventure. Highly recommended for older readers.