A beautiful cover that lives from the color varieties. Red and orange bring strength and danger into it although the motive is delicate and fine. I was kind of thrilled, when I found out, that I had won this novel when I didn´t expect it at all. Not every time you apply for something, you are lucky to get it. So, this win brought some moments of joy into my life.

Sword And Verse*
by Kathy MacMillan
Sword And Verse Series #1
Publisher Harper Teen on January 19, 2016
Genre Fantasy
Pages 384
Format Hardcover
Source Giveaway

Raisa was just a child when she was sold into slavery in the kingdom of Qilara. Before she was taken away, her father had been adamant that she learn to read and write. But where she now lives, literacy is a capital offense for all but the nobility. The written language is closely protected, and only the King, Prince, Tutor, and Tutor-in-training are allowed to learn its very highest form. So, when she is plucked from her menial labor and selected to replace the last Tutor-in-training, who was executed, Raisa knows that betraying any hint of her past could mean death. Keeping her secret guarded is head enough, but the romance that´s been blossoming between her and Prince Mati isn´t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance – an underground rebel army - to help liberate the city´s slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries – one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.
Raisa is very eager to learn how to write. But with the death of her father, she has no chance to learn. Instead, she becomes a slave and has to learn to clean the library. The place where all the knowledge, she would like to know, lays. One day, her destiny seems to change. She becomes the chosen one and with that access to the highest form of reading and writing as a Tutor-in.

Though the author´s writing-sty is easy to read and very soft, her style is also a bit monotonous. You get to read a lot about the power words have, and it becomes soon very clear, that those who know how to write and read, are those with the real power. But power can also be a dangerous thing. Especially when there are people who have to suffer if that power is misused. Kathy MacMillan has a way to use the words to form her novel, which shows besides being monotonous – a certain strength. Not only does she us a huge diversity of words but also of their meaning. And Raisa discovers throughout the story what the secret of a tiny bit of paper really means for her.

There is not much description the author gives the reader. Only a few specific things. The rest is up to their own imagination and fantasy. But most of the figures show some strength and determination in what they do. Some do it very obvious others more hidden.

Raisa is a beauty, though she doesn´t know it or hears it from others. For the people of Qilara, she doesn´t even exist. As an Arnath she is less worth than dirt and a slave has no rights or expectations. At least no other than to survive.

This novel turned out to be a real surprise in the end. All of a sudden I was haunted and thrilled by the story, by what happened and what the plot became. All I can say is: read it!

Happy reading

*I read the German edition new release by Beltz on March 13, 2017 

Kathy MacMillan
Kathy MacMillan ©Kristin Brown

Kathy MacMillan has been a librarian, American Sign Language interpreter, children´s performer, teacher, storyteller, and writer. Her previous work includes educator- and parent-resource books about promoting literacy through signing with all children. Sword and Verse was inspired by her research into ancient libraries and her interest in exploring the power of language. Kathy lives in Owing Mills, Maryland, with her husband and son.


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