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CLOVERMEAD by David Randall


In the Shadow of the Bear

by David Randall

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: June 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-689-86639-9
Publisher: McElderry

Grim undercurrents swirl beneath the sparkling surface of an otherwise straightforward fantasy. Clovermead Wickward has spent 12 years dreaming of derring-do, but noble quests rarely employ humble innkeeper’s daughters. After she persuades a young warrior pilgrim to teach her swordplay, her quiet life falls apart, as a mysterious pendant and a malicious priest reveal that her father is less—and more—than he has always claimed. Soon Clovermead is fleeing for her life and smack into a long-festering war, one that finds its crucial battleground in Clovermead’s own heart. The stark insistence on inherent human darkness does as much as the gory battle scenes and vaguely Freudian symbolism to push this tale into YA territory. Vivacious, loquacious, precocious Clovermead is a delightful heroine and her gradual personality disintegration as she surrenders to anger and fear is truly disturbing. Although this internal focus shortchanges the remaining characters, and offers only teasing glimpses of an intriguingly imagined world, it remains both an effective metaphorical fable of adolescence and a satisfying adventure whose fairytale conclusion leaves room for a sequel. Gulp it down for the thrills; the subtle aftertaste will linger. (Fantasy. YA)