Currently Reading: Keturah and Lord Death

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"Tell me what it is like to die," I answered.

He dismounted from his horse, looking at me strangely the whole while. "You experience something similar every day," he said softly. "It is as familiar to you as bread and butter."

"Yes," I said. "It is like every night when I fall asleep."

"No. It is like every morning when you wake up."

Author: Martine Leavitt

Synopsis: A beautiful young woman follows a hart into a forest, becomes lost, and meets Death, who is a lord. He has come on his black stallion to claim her, but she takes up the mantle of Scheherazade, telling him a story of a girl who searches for her true love. She has no ending to tell him. Captivated, Death grants her a bargain: one day of life to find her own happy ending.

Notes: This book was recommended to me by fellow Blogengamot member Arabella Figg, and does credit to her taste. Set in medieval times and written in a voice that emulates the language of fairy tales, it follows a path to an ending that probably should have been more obvious to me, but which took me rather by surprise. Still puzzled, I turned the page after the end and read the acknowledgements. Once I'd done that, the whole story made sense.

Everything about this story is beautiful. Unique, interesting characters, lovely and fitting prose, apotheosis as Keturah fumbles through her attempts to find true love and help her village, and enough of thought and symbol to keep me thinking for days. It certainly made me want to read more of Leavitt's work.

It offers food for introspection, too. Apparently I'm still very much in love with life—either that, or with the golden-hearted hero archetype. It's a tough call. I can't say more without spoilers, so we'll leave it at that. :)

Recommendation: Read it in a pensive mood, perhaps by lamplight on a quiet evening. It should fit perfectly.


  1. Kewl beans! This has been in my Kindle wish list for a couple of weeks but I was undecided on buying it. Until now that is. :)

  2. Sweet, George! I'd love to hear what you think of it. Part of me really wants to do a write-up for The Hog's Head, connecting some of the themes to the Tale of the Three Brothers and Harry Potter in general--I just ran out of time today. But maybe eventually.

  3. Oooh, thanks for the recommendation. That quote that you open with gave me the shivers. I love the thought of dying being like waking up . . . it rings true in my soul.

  4. That quote had the same sort of effect on me, Jenna. Thanks for coming by, and you're welcome! I hope you enjoy the book. :)

  5. I'm drawing a blank--who's Keturah in the Bible? I should know this...

    Meanwhile, my imagination is going Pratchett on 'Lord Death'...

    Thanks for the recommendation, I'll be looking into this one.

  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keturah

  7. I promise, Mr. Pond, that Leavitt's Lord Death does not speak in small caps.

    ...but I have to admit that Pratchett's portrayal of Death is one of the more hilarious things I've ever found in fiction.


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