RUNA by J. Alison James

RUNA

Age Range: 10 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Just before Runa arrives at her Swedish grandfather (``Morfar's'') home, she survives two life-threatening accidents- -a traffic mishap back in the US and a freak fall from the boat on the way to Gotland; once there, there's another in the old church tower, plus the unnerving discovery that, over the centuries, several girls in her family (including Morfar's sister) died accidentally on their 13th birthdays--on Midsummer's Day, as Runa's will be in a few days. Runa's fear that she'll be the next victim is intensified by visions of her Viking ancestors, revealing the terrible outcome of a mother's failure to return her child's love--a cruel sacrifice doomed to reenactment unless Runa can break the chain. The fantasy element here is unusually imaginative, drawing on the myths of Baldur and Iphigenia as well as Judeo-Christian tradition to explore the idea of sacrifice (or the scapegoat) and mounting to a startling climax. Meanwhile, James creates several likable, realistic characters, including Runa's two young Swedish friends and three adults. Breaking genre tradition, Runa confides in them all, to different degrees; unfortunately, their supportive responses are unevenly realized--nice, normal folk, their anxious sympathy and concerned advice sit uneasily with the heroism Runa summons to face the terror of what may be her impending death. Easy blends of fantasy and reality are rare--Susan Cooper and E. Nesbit come to mind. This isn't in their league; still, it's a vivid and compelling tale. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 17th, 1993
ISBN: 0-689-31708-5
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1993




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