Jennifer Wardrip's Reviews > The Keepers' Tattoo

The Keepers' Tattoo by Gill Arbuthnott
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Apr 18, 2010

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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 seen sailing into the harbor. Nyssa thinks nothing of it until that night, when a man named Marius, a familiar regular at her bar, ushers her and the barkeep aside, and her life forever changes.

The ship is of the Shadowmen and their leader, Alaric from Thira, the old, powerful capital of the Archipelago. Alaric and his Shadowmen are known to have taken over the islands of the Archipelago years ago and killed off people from the clan known as The Keepers. The Keepers seemed magical in the vast amount of knowledge they passed on from one Keeper to the next. No one believes they exist except in Legend. All except Marius and William, who show Nyssa their matching crane tattoos and tell her she, too, is a Keeper - and that the Shadowmen are looking for her!

Marius takes her away from the Drowned Boy bar and on the run to escape notice and capture by the Shadowmen. Nyssa's past and the secrets of her tattoo begin to reveal themselves. She slowly begins to piece together her life in connection with the Keeper's Legend. She is one of the twins from the Legend, a twin who has three lines of script tattooed on the back of her head, half of a powerful verse that once saved the Archipelago from the Shadowmen. Half of a verse, one of two twins ...suddenly Nyssa understands the visions she has seen for years. She has been seeing the life of her twin, Kit, who was captured by Alaric long ago and forced into slavery. Determined to save him, Nyssa will do anything to get to Thira with or without Marius's help. And she just might save the Archipelago from Alaric and the Shadowmen, too, if she can avoid capture and death along the way.

Arbuthnott has written a realistic fantasy/adventure novel with an artistic, literary prose. Though a fast read, there are still challenging concepts lightly and thoughtfully touched upon. Who tells history? And what is the power of history over legend? Is there a difference?

Fans of THE HUNGER GAMES, WINGS, AND INCARCERON will find similar styles of intrigue, surprise, and cliff-hanging chapter endings that make this 400+ page book seem like the shortest and most thrilling adventure to read.
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