Sixteen-year-old Cassandra Mercredi might be immune to Plague, but that doesn't mean she's safe--government forces are searching for those of aboriginal heritage to harvest their blood. When a search threatens Cassandra and her family, they flee to the Island: a mysterious and idyllic territory protected by the Band, a group of guerilla warriors--and by an enigmatic energy barrier that keeps outsiders out and the spirit world in. And though the village healer has taken her under her wing, and the tribal leader's son into his heart, the creatures of the spirit world are angry, and they have chosen Cassandra to be their voice and instrument....
Incorporating the traditions of the First Peoples as well as the more familiar stories of Greek mythology and Arthurian legend, Shadows Cast by Stars is a haunting, beautifully written story that breathes new life into ancient customs.
- ISBN-13: 9781442401914
- ISBN-10: 1442401915
- Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: June 2012
- Page Count: 456
- Reading Level: Ages 12-UP
- Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-05-07
- Reviewer: Staff
Aboriginal mythology and mysticism play a large role in Knutsson’s dystopian debut, as she draws on her own heritage for inspiration. Two centuries from now, plague has devastated the world, and only Native American tribes possess the antibodies needed to fight off the disease, making them a valuable but expendable commodity. Off the coast of what was once Canada, the Band dwells on the Island, protected by treaty and a barrier keyed to their blood. Sixteen-year-old Cassandra Mercredi is a half-blood, and when her family is forced to seek refuge on the Island, she is only grudgingly accepted. Soon, she begins a romance with the leader’s son and an apprenticeship under the local medicine woman. As her power to see and interact with the spirit world grows, she discovers her true purpose. While Knutsson’s concept is sound, and the story flows smoothly, the apocalyptic future is just a sketchy backdrop for a fairly standard coming-of-age adventure. There’s little detail paid to the world outside the Island, so the significance of living in the “Old Way” is lessened. Otherwise, this is a strong beginning. Ages 12–up. Agent: Diana Fox, Fox Literary. (June)
A dystopian tale of First Peoples
Sixteen-year-old Cassandra, her twin brother Paul and their father have always lived by the Old Way, even before the government forces them to move from the concrete Corridor to the sanctuary of an island populated by a band of their people, the Mtis tribe of Western Canada. Unlike other newcomers, Cass and her family know how to live without the Corridor’s technology. And although she’s ordinarily indifferent to boys, Cass finds herself attracted to Bran, son and potential heir of the band’s missing chief.
Madda, the local medicine woman, takes Cassandra on as an apprentice, helping her develop talents she’s always possessed but never studied. Cassandra can heal wounds, see the invisible animal shades that accompany her people (similar to the d¾mons of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy) and travel into the spirit world. But she cannot see her own shade, cannot help Paul find peace from the ghosts that haunt him and cannot convince various jealous factions to welcome her into their community.
In Shadows Cast by Stars, debut author Catherine Knutsson, herself a member of the Mtis tribe, blends a contemporary feminist sensibility with Arthurian legends, Greek mythology and Native traditions to create a rich and captivating story.