THE BEGUILERS by Kate Thompson


Age Range: 11 - 14
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Thompson (Wild Blood, 2000, etc.) crafts an unusual alternate-world fantasy, rich in mystery and subtle connections, focused less on plot than on her young narrator’s emotional state. The people of Rilka’s isolated mountain village stay in at night for fear of the Beguilers, glowing, insubstantial floaters said to steal a wanderer’s spirit, then life. On the other hand, everyone keeps a doglike “chuffie,” who compulsively drinks up sadness, anger, and misery—everyone, that is, but Rilka, who’s allergic to them. Perhaps for that reason, she has always been a restless, contrary sort, chafing against the complacent conformity around her; she makes a break at last, by recklessly announcing that she’s setting out to capture a Beguiler. Surviving perils to body and spirit both, Rilka discovers that chuffies become Beguilers when they die—then finds herself in a desperate battle for control of her own will with a clever, inimical, and persistent adversary. Walker creates complex, well-defined inner and outer landscapes for her young protagonist to traverse, and though much of what Rilka sees and suffers has an evident symbolic aspect, the author doesn’t beat readers over the head with it (a pleasant contrast to, for instance, Lois Lowry’s Gathering Blue, 2000). It’s a well-envisioned world, with plenty left unexplained or unexplored. Look for sequels. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-525-46806-4
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2001


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