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“Two hundred years from now, blood has become the most valuable commodity on the planet – especially the blood of aboriginal peoples, for it contains antibodies that protects them from the plague that is ravaging the rest of the world.  Sixteen year old Cassandra Mercredi might be immune to the plague, but that doesn’t mean she’s safe.  Government forces are searching for those of aboriginal heritage to harvest their blood.  When a search threatens Cass and her family they flee to the Island, a mysterious and idyllic territory protected by the Band, a group of guerrilla warriors, and by an enigmatic energy barrier that keeps outsiders out and the spirit world in.  And though the village healer has taken Cass under her wing and the tribal leader’s son into his heart, the spirit world is angry and it has chosen Cass to be its voice and instrument”.

 

This is a YA piece of fiction with Cass, a 16 year old girl a the heart of it.  The book opens with Cass and her father and brother living on the mainland.  They live a simple life quite happily although the regular searches overhang them.  One day her father turns up and tells them to get what they need because they are leaving.  It is especially hard to leave as Cass’ mother is buried under the apple tree.  The three travel with the healer from the Island who escorts them through the barrier and to the Island.  It becomes apparent that Cass has gifts of healing and she invites her to be her apprentice.  The family aren’t that readily accepted by everyone else though and there are people in the village that make them feel quite unwelcome.  Adventures abound though and many feature supernatural characters.  From the ending of the book I would suggest that the aim is for there to be a sequel.

I found the book quite hard to get into as explanations for things either don’t come or don’t come for ages.  Cassandra’s gifts, and those of her brother, confused me and the descriptions of what is going on, why people are living as they are, passed me by I guess. I did struggle on and I am glad I did because I really did enjoy reading it.  The descriptions are really good and I really feel like I could go and find that village and I’d quite like to live there.  Not with the mad dead women but in the healers cottage, surrounded by blackberries where I thank the trees for their gifts.  That sounds like my sort of world.  Though the ending suggests that things will change in the next book.

I liked Cass, she was a good character as were the characters of her brother and father, the healer who took her on as an apprentice and the son of the missing leader who takes a shine to Cass.  Then there are the bad and the ugly!  And they’re cool too.  The missing leaders wife is a mad old drunk who constantly embarrasses her son.  That’s her job right!

I would definitely recommend this book for a bit of escapism.  Remember though you need to preservere through the start of it but it is worth it!  Something a bit different, not your usual run of the mill book that everyone else is reading.