Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Review: Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
by Martine Leavitt
Fantasy, Fairy Tale
For: Book Club
6 of 5 stars
Keturah is the young and beautiful story teller of a medieval village who gets lost in the woods and dies...or nearly dies. When Lord Death comes to collect her, she finds out he is a handsome and interesting man. Keturah bargains for her life. She tells death a story about how she longs for true love, and she does not finish the end. Death grants her another day to live and a chance to find love. If she can, he will let her go indefinitely. Keturah has a lot to do in one day...
I told you a while ago that I wanted a book to gush about...and I got my wish! Are you ready for gushing?
It looks like opinions on this are all over the board. I've read several negative reviews, and while I can concede their points, this book spoke to me. In fact, I will be rereading it soon because I was in such a hurry to get to the end that I know I didn't absorb as much as I wanted to.
Why I loved this book?
I loved it because it put me right into the story. There was very little set up, only a short prologue, and then I was right in the action. It caught me slightly off guard, ripped the ground I thought I would have out from under me, and I was sucked in.
I loved Keturah. I loved her effortless love and selflessness concerning her village and people. There was no wavering in her mind concerning Lord Death's offers. Even when faced with dire consequences, she worried much about her friends and their happiness. She was intelligent and resourceful. And she was not without flaws. She stubbornly stuck to an idea, a hoped-for outcome, which she knew was not correct. She very nearly managed, through stubbornness alone, to love someone she didn't love. In all other ways perceptive, in this one area she was painfully obtuse. I loved her self-realization and her courage to follow through. She tirelessly fought for those she loved, even when it demanded that she beg and use her one leverage against someone, though I believe it was anathema to her. I even loved how Keturah got caught up in everyday things when she should have been worried about her tasks. I can so easily see myself doing that. In our defense, big things are made up of those little things, and sometimes a problem feels too much to handle without breaking it down to the mundane like baking a pie or caring for a friend.. I exulted in Keturah's joy in the world she was allowed to see another day.
I loved the setting, the village, and the secondary characters. I loved her Grandmother who modeled real romantic love with her husband. I loved Keturah's friends, who were distinct people with loving hearts. I loved Soor Lilly with her knowledge and weakness for her sons.
I loved that it felt and read like a fairy tale. I thought for sure it was to be a retelling of Arabian Nights, but other than the beginning, it was not so. I felt like it was another tale that I should have known.
I loved Death. Can you believe that? He was strong and seemingly unyielding. He was not without compassion, but had it so schooled it was a tool. Yet he was not without weakness - curiosity being one of them. At one point he lost his control. I sympathized most with Lord Death. I ached for him.
I loved the ending. I knew how I wanted it to end, though the wanting wasn't without pain. But I worried that neither Keturah, nor the author, would have the courage to follow through. I worried that it would all tie up too nicely and that I would, in spite of myself, like it anyway. I worried in vain! Courage characterized the ending for me. Bittersweet and perfect, a sigh of satisfaction and a ache of sadness.
This book made me laugh and cry at the same time. It contained beautiful thoughts and little seeds of truth. I will be reading it again for those.
Keturah and Lord Death is one of my new Book Crushes and I'm thrilled that I had to buy a hardcover edition. (Apparently, paperbacks are out of print??) While I realize my love affair might be a very personal thing, I highly recommend this one.
I forgot to add one thing! I forgot probably because I dismissed it. The prologue should have been removed entirely. It is unnecessary, but worse, doesn't make logical sense. Goodbye prologue! No one shall miss you.
There was no significant violence, language, or sex, though the themes and scenes (including death, plague, and childbirth) are for a slightly more mature audience.