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The Keepers' Tattoo

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  742 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
What is the mystery that marks her? A lush, multitextured fantasy introducing a captivating heroine, Nyssa, descendant of seers, vessel of their secrets.

Ten years ago, Alaric, leader of the Shadowmen, killed most of the Keepers--teachers of ancient knowledge that threatened his barbaric rule. Young Kit was captured, but his twin sister, Nyssa, escaped. Only later will she
Hardcover, 425 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Chicken House (first published July 6th 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,736)
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Aug 09, 2010 Cara rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fantasy lovers
Shelves: fantasy, 2010, siblings
I'm kind of surprised this book is not more popular, but I guess it's competing against a lot of new awesome books coming out this summer. I want to point out that I actually had no idea this book was published earlier as The Keepers' Daughter, same story just different cover and title.

Nyssa has not known too much about her life before coming to the Drowned Boy . It has always bothered her a bit not knowing where she came from and who her family was. All she has to show for her past is a broke
Oct 20, 2010 Valerie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Valerie by: Cara
Shelves: fantasy
I was looking forward to this book so I sort of had high expectations but it delivered. Maybe not the awww mind-blowing kind of delivery I was hoping for but still.

The story starts (after the prologue) with Nyssa being a young woman having a relatively normal life except for the fact that she is an orphan. She doesn't know her life is in danger. She doesn't know that a power crazed man named Alaric wants to find her and use the words tattooed on the back of her head. She doesn't know she had a
Steph Su
Jun 11, 2010 Steph Su rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
The story is ambitious and the writing is not too bad, but it never captivated me the way other epic fantasy adventures, like Robin McKinley's, did. The 3rd person omniscient POV switched dizzily between characters yet never gave me a decent sense of who they are and what drives their actions and beliefs. The journey seemed oversimplified, not giving us enough of a sense of the extremities at stake when we are TOLD that a lot is at stake.
May 09, 2010 Erikka rated it really liked it
Shelves: reads-of-10
Nyssa lives a life like any other teenaged orphan in the Archipelago – she works slugging beers and cooking for her room and board. She tries to imagine what her past could be and also to understand the many strange dreams she has had since she was a child. Nothing and no one is left to tell her, except for one piece of history -the small crane tattooed on her upper forearm. One day while at the docks a dark, foreboding ship is seen sailing into the harbor. Nyssa thinks nothing of it until that ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Erikka Adams aka "The Bookbinder" for

Nyssa lives a life like any other teenage orphan in the Archipelago - she works slugging beers and cooking for her room and board. She tries to imagine what her past could be and also to understand the many strange dreams she has had since she was a child. Nothing and no one is left to tell her, except for one piece of history - the small crane tattooed on her upper forearm. One day while at the docks, a dark, foreboding ship is s
Apr 06, 2016 Quinlyn rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much!! The writing was beautiful, the characters were interesting, and I really enjoyed the world it's set in. There wasn't a whole lot of worldbuilding, which actually just added to the charm. Nothing was over-explained. There was a Legend, and once you'd read that, everything pretty much fell into place as far as locations and different groups of people. However, this book isn't for you if you don't like long, winding books where very little happens. I think there's only o ...more
Chris Westergard
Sep 01, 2015 Chris Westergard rated it liked it
I just randomly picked this off the shelf at the library and I'm surprised at how good it turned out to be. A girl and her uncle are forced to go into hiding/running bc they are part of a secret clan that most people believe to be legend..."the keepers of knowledge" while they are on the run from the shadowmen who are hunting them the girl learns her twin brother is alive and being held a slave by the ruler of the shadowmen and the reason they want her is bc she has the other half a a tattoo wit ...more
Becky Keir Grace
I grabbed this book in hopes and a great fantasy novel. I liked it, but I was not blown away. Nyssa is a young teenager and works at the Drowned Boy Inn as a cook. She was orphaned and knows nothing of her family or past, except she has a tattoo of a crane and part of a broken flute. One day she is told her life is in danger and that she needs to leave immediately. Things happen rather quickly and Nyssa finds herself on an adventure with her long lost uncle, Marius. She learns the tattoo means s ...more
May 19, 2016 _sheerio6615_ rated it really liked it
I really liked this book but I felt like I wasn't very satisfied with the ending. I mean, the entire book is sorta leading up to that ending and it was good, don't get me wrong, but I just feel kinda disappointed. Like it ended really abruptly and everything was rushed.

I also wish the author would've incorporated some kind of love interest to Nyssa. It would've made it a lot better in my opinion, and would be really interesting to see how their "make-believe relationship" would've played out in
Dec 08, 2011 Colin rated it liked it
This was pretty typical ya fantasy fare, a random library shelf selection. It was entertaining enough, but nothing spectacular.

Nyssa was taken in ten years ago as a 5-year-old foundling and knows nothing about her origins. That begins to change when she is told she is in danger and yanked away from her familiar surroundings. As she and her companion(s) flee "the Shadowmen," Nyssa learns about her own past, including a deep and terrible secret that could end the world, and about the man who desires more than anything else to gain that secret for himself.

The Good: This story is high fantasy, set in The Archipelago, which
IndyPL Kids Book Blog
Mar 06, 2012 IndyPL Kids Book Blog rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure
Nyssa is happy enough cooking and serving food at the Drowned Boy Inn. For an orphan, she did pretty well for herself ending up at the Drowned Boy with William and Oonagh, the owners, and the Inn regulars, like Marius, who keep an eye on her.

One day, on a trip into town Nyssa is grabbed from behind and surprised to hear whose voice whispers in her ear:

“Nyssa, be quiet! It’s me, Marius. There are men outside who want to kill us. Just stay still and quiet for a minute.” (13)

There are, indeed, men
May 27, 2012 Arati rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's amazing how many books I find in the 'Teens' section of the library that I like. The back story is that there's the 'White Wolf' on the island of Thira, who wants to eliminate all Keepers (literally keepers of knowledge, once based on Thira, who 'split' the world with words of power) so that there is no further threat to his power and expansion to rule over the Archipelago.

Nyssa is an orphan, brought up by an innkeeper called William, and his wife (now dead), living on one of the many islan
Aug 15, 2011 Pia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mit meinen eigenen Worten:
Nyssa lebt eigentlich ein ganz normales Leben, abgesehen davon, dass sie keine Erinnerungen an ihre Vergangenheit hatte, als William und seine Frau Oonagh sie vor ihrer Kneipe dem Drowned Boy gefunden hatten.

Bis die mysteriösen Schattenmänner in ihrer ruhigen Heimatstadt auftauchten und sich einige komische Dinge herausstellten. Ein guter Freund der dem Mädchen immer mit aufdringlichen Kneipengästen geholfen hat namens Marius, stellt sich außerdem als ihr Onkel vor.
May 05, 2012 GSGS rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book got better as it progressed, so if you've just started and find it a little cliche and lacking in character, keep reading on. At first I was about ready to ditch it; it started with a birth, the orphaning of the child who subsequently went to live with some foster parents in an inn. Fantasy can't get much more cliche. As well as this, the author seemed hesitant and not very passionate. This changes as the story comes along.

However, as you go along and get pulled into the world of Shado
May 22, 2010 Sophie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-review, uk-author
The Keeper’s Daughter is a brilliant fantasy full of secrets, intrigue and murder.

What I loved most about this novel is the legend of the Keepers. The story of a supposedly dangerous, secret society that has been pushed into myth but has maintained suspicions for years has a classical feel; Ancient Greek, I’d say. And I love classical history. The magic, the myths, the stories! Our world is so boring compared to them.

The old-world atmosphere I supported by the extraordinary library in Rushiadh.
Zhane Strickland
Feb 28, 2012 Zhane Strickland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well , i would think this book would be more up there because its a really good book that should be more up there .
When i started to read this book i didnt really think it would be as great as it is , but then my expectations grew higher and higher the more i got into it , it sucked me in from the first to the last word .

This story is about a young girl Nyysa (an orphan) who lives a normal life , little does she know .
Theres more to the story like this crazy man Alaric , or even about her lost t
Jun 09, 2010 Kelly rated it liked it
The Keepers' Tattoo, previously published as The Keepers' Daughter in the U.K., is a young adult high fantasy with historical overtones. While it is set in an imaginary world, the story revolves around the earthquake-ruined city of Thira and the highly advanced "Keepers" who once lived there. Gill Arbuthnott is clearly drawing on the real-life Thera and the mysterious Minoan culture that may have inspired the legends of Atlantis. I've long been fascinated by all things Minoan, and so I loved thi ...more
Jan 10, 2016 JoLee rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 2011, paper
I don't often get a chance to browse at the library, so I have to take advantage of the rare occasions when I do. I picked up The Keepers' Tattoo off the "new release shelf" not having heard a thing about it.

Gill Arbuthnott's The Keepers' Tattoo is basically your typical fantasy fare. Really interesting world. The main character, Nyssa, can't remember much of her life before she was taken in by the innkeepers at the Drowned Boy. Then one day the Shadowmen come seeking a girl with a crane tatt
Jun 14, 2012 Shraddha rated it it was amazing
I was caught between giving it 4.5 or 5, but I suppose it really does deserve a 5.
A very unique story...One without a (view spoiler) which I didn't really mind, though I read books which do have that. I felt it was quite unnecessary but (view spoiler) It was about sticking with family, and never giving up. I liked that they were always there for each other - Nyssa, Ari
Eugenia (Genie In A Book)
May 05, 2013 Eugenia (Genie In A Book) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of historical fiction/mystery/fantasy
3.5 stars

Although The Keeper's Daughter didn't exactly blow me away, it did have a rather entertaining storyline and interesting plot. I saw this novel as having a mostly historical fiction feel with a hint of fantasy. The story follows Nyssa; a fifteen year old orphan who works in an inn and has a strange tattoo that marks her as a 'Keeper'. She does not know what the symbol means, only that she has a twin who she has never met. When the Shadowhunters come looking in the village for people like
Nicole Dreibelbeis
Overall, I think The Keepers' Tattoo is an enjoyable read. The book has an exciting beginning- Nyssa is torn from her comfortable but monotonous life as the adopted daughter of an inn keeper in a small village, and must go on the run with a man she has just discovered is actually her uncle. Alaric, the tyrannical ruler of the Archipelago has his Shadowmen after her, and if he finds her it won't be just her own life at stake but the fate of all the islands. We discover right from the beginning th ...more
Alex Nye
May 13, 2012 Alex Nye rated it it was amazing
Gill Arbuthnott is a fellow Floris author (our first books were published by Floris), and we very occasionally bump into each other at author-do's, through the Scottish Book Trust which is situated in John Knox's old house in Edinburgh.

It's a while now since I've seen Gill, and about a year since I read The Keeper's Tattoo. Having begun to access the goodreads website, I decided I should put in a review for this novel, particularly as I was very excited about this book when I read it. I enjoyed
Jul 08, 2010 Rachael rated it really liked it
Orphaned and taken in by strangers, Nyssa has never really known the meaning of the crane tattoo on her arm—and how much danger it puts her in. Nyssa soon learns that she is a Keeper, a member of an ancient clan whose knowledge was widespread through the Archipelago. Unfortunately, the tyrant Alaric and his Shadowmen have been hunting her kind for years, and now Nyssa must flee. With the help of another disguised Keeper, Nyssa will embark on an epic adventure. And when she discovers that she may ...more
Mar 02, 2011 Maude rated it liked it
The Keepers Tattoo Chicken House, 2009, 425pp., $17.99
Gill Arbuthnott ISBN 978-0-545-17166-3

Many people are curious about their family background and have numerous questions. Was it ever challenging to get those questions answered and by knowing the answers have they led you through confusion, danger, and adventure? For Nyssa, definitely. In this fantasy book The Keepers Tattoo by Gill Arbuthnott, Nyssa, the main character, was found when she was young and alone playing outside in a courtyard
Jun 17, 2013 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
This book was an unexpectedly good read.

I picked it up at the library, because it was on display and the cover looked interesting. I'd never heard of it. Secret tattoos? Sounds good to me.

I liked the world that the book was set in—an archipelago. So lots of islands and different cultures. Also, there are clan tattoos for different peoples.

And Nyssa is a smart, plucky heroine. She does not need rescuing and often saves her would be rescuer. She can take care of herself. She's not overly romanti
Oct 25, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it
Nyssa was orphaned as a young child and has no memories of her early life. She is lovingly raised by an innkeeper and his wife. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she is forced to flee the only home she has ever known with a man she has known her whole life, but only recently discovered is her uncle. As they run in desperation from the Shadowmen sent by the evil Alaric, Nyssa learns many things about her true heritage. She discovers she is the bearer of a special, secret tattoo. Three lines ...more
Jun 24, 2011 Erin rated it liked it
Well. This will be kind of a boring review. A simple pros and cons list will do. And I'm tired.

Pros: Characters (especially female protagonist) were believable and protagonists were likable. Author showed and did not tell. Background was given to help reader understand. There was a climax.

Cons: Ending was unbelievable and annoying. Details and useless facts thrown at readers. Plot plodded along. Plot, climax, and resolution are boring and predictable. Time is confusing because author uses a his
Oct 10, 2014 Kavi rated it it was amazing
This book is one of the most different and awesome book I have read.I that surprised that it's not popular. This book has captured my attention right from the start.
It's recommended for people who want to read new type of stories. Another similar book is:The valley of the wolves by Galileo Garcia. It's in french. Get a translated book :)
Nov 26, 2011 Tiffany rated it liked it
3.5/5 stars

I'm still trying to figure out how to put the way I feel about this book into words. There were a few places that I thought it was slow; I could put it down easily. But at the same time there was always something going on. It made me wonder what makes a book a can't-put-it-down book. I would have liked the characters to come alive a little bit more. There was one relationship I'd like to have more development of earlier on; it was kind of a sudden change for me, or I missed it somewhe
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I was born and brought up in Edinburgh, where I went to James Gillespie’s High School, famous as the school where the author Muriel Spark was educated, and on which she based her most famous book The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Almost all the teachers when I was there seemed to be wildly eccentric spinsters. There was one maths teacher who would climb into a cupboard at one end of the room, and reap
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