April 09, 2007

The Familiar Face of Darkness

Keturah is an unique and integral part of a very small village, Tide-by-Rood. Though poor, she and her friends are happy, living below the estate of the Great Lord, working and bartering to maintain their slender thread of life. The Lord was banished here by the King, and so he may not much care for his people, but no matter. The villagers listen as Keturah weaves stories of the white hind he hunts, and are happy enough, but Keturah is not. The world around her is simple… her beloved grandmother, who still mourns her romantic and wonderful husband, her girlfriends, the village boys, and the Lord's son. These people whom she loves and entertains wish for simple things. The girls dream of marrying, the boys dream of hunting exploits, and Keturah dreams of she isn’t sure what.

One night, Keturah sees the hind from so many of her tales, and follows it into the forest where, as in all Victorian tales, Bad Things Happen. And something bad does happen. Keturah can’t find her way home, and knowing that death is coming after three days of wandering, sits down and waits for it.

It turns out that death is not an ‘it.’ Death is a He. And Lord Death is powerful, implacable, and disturbingly familiar. Keturah realizes she has known him, and been attracted by him, all her life.

Like a folk tale told around the fire, Keturah and Lord Death spins out a darkly romantic story in which all of the pieces interlock seamlessly. Honored as a National Book Award finalist, readers who love Victorian fiction and dark romances may enjoy this, and may wish to seek out other works by Martine Leavitt.

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