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A series of accidents and a discovery in a medieval church suddenly change Runa's carefree summer on a Swedish island into three tense days as she finds her life caught up in the rites of her Viking ancestors and subject to the implacable will of ancientNorse gods.
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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) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From School Library Journal:
Grade 6-9-- A fantasy novel that incorporates mythology and legend. The setting is emphasized by spare, clean sentences, and readers will feel the light and sunny atmosphere of a summer in Sweden. Runa visits her grandfather and learns much about her family that she would rather not know. In an old family Bible, she discovers that all female ancestors born on Midsummer's Day died on their 13th birthday. Runa's 13th birthday is the following Saturday, Midsummer's Day. When she and a childhood friend make a rubbing of a stone embedded in a church wall, Runa has a vision that graphically shows her the first ancestral sacrifice. She enlists the help of two friends, a friend's mother, and her grandfather, who seems sadly resigned to the ancient chain of events. Through the reading of her Rune stones, they piece the puzzle together. Up to this point, readers will be enthralled and anxious to learn the solution, but the ending comes in a short burst of unexplained phenomena, and the story concludes with a confusing cloud of events. However, James's strong characterization, beautiful writing, and inclusion of Viking mythology will intrigue YAs. --Julie Halverstadt, Douglas Public Library District, Castle Rock, CO
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012. Condition: Good. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Seller Inventory # GRP71073570
Book Description Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012. Paperback. Condition: Used: Good. Seller Inventory # SONG1442474823