THE CRYSTAL BIRD by Helen Drayton


Email this review


Drayton (Passages II: Brown Doves, 2012, etc.) delivers an epic tale of an ancient civilization confronting the present.

In 1999, archaeologists Allan Cline and Christopher Ward and their team traverse East Africa’s Great Rift Valley. Stunned by their discoveries of ancient artifacts dating back 50,000 years, the team continues its search until, after seeking protection from a snowstorm, its members find themselves among the Ashai tribe. The Ashais are an advanced people whose life span and medicinal knowledge exceed those of the explorers. The team is particularly intrigued to learn that the Ashais’ lives center on a Kriziantu, a crystal bird whose eggs protect their people from the deadliest diseases. The bird and other Ashai magical items interest the archaeologists, who hope to use them to cure sick people around the world. The Ashais sense danger and strike back against the explorers, protecting their healing bird and their unique knowledge of history and humanity’s origins. Centuries of battles and discoveries come to a head as these two civilizations clash—a battle that escalates when one of the explorers falls for the Ashai king’s daughter. The explorers are torn between their respect and reverence for the land they’ve discovered and the potential cures they could bring back to the world, transforming this fast-paced adventure story into a much deeper and more complicated tale. Drayton’s lyrical prose contains poetic turns of phrase such as, “The music of whistling trees and the low pitched call of the crystal birds soared across the Blue Mountains, which were splashed with the light of the midnight sun.”

A unique, engaging story of star-crossed love, history and mythical magic.

Pub Date: Dec. 3rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-1475225075
Page count: 386pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2013