A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars (7/10)
This is the first book by Hoffman that I've read. I saw it in my book catalogue and thought the blurb looked interesting. I checked with my helpful bookseller (sure to be often referred to in these reviews as my "dealer") who assured me it is was good, so I took the risk and ordered it. I'm very glad I did.
A Fistful of Sky introduces the reader to the LaZelle family, most especially Gypsum LaZelle, the middle of five siblings (the others named Opal, Jasper, Beryl and Flint) who is the narrator of the story. Around the time of puberty LaZelle's go through something called "transition", a nasty illness after which they have gained their share of power.
At the time the story opens, Gypsum is twenty and the "normal" member of the family. She has never transitioned and is trying to reconcile herself to a life without power. Then, while alone for the weekend she finally undergoes transition and survives to find herself a person of power after all.
But there's a catch. Late transitions tend to produce stronger, but darker powers. Gypsum finds herself with the power of curses. If she doesn't use it, it will canker inside her and slowly kill her, but who wants to curse people or things - especially when there tends to always be unfortunate side effects.
This is the story of Gypsum learning to use her power, and learn just who she is at the same time. She makes some mistakes along the way, including calling a creature who names herself Altria and whose own agendas are unknown. By the end of the book Altria is unmasked and Gypsum has found a solution (and a possible romance).
My primary complaint is that I didn't "get" the last chapter. I'm not sure if that was my fault or the fault of the author. I'm going to need to read that final chapter again after I've had a bit of a break away from the book. Since this is the explanation of how Gypsum finally tames her power, it is kind of important.
All the same, I happily recommend this book. The characters are well drawn, and the investigation of how one manages something so potentially dangerous as the need to regularly curse things is very interesting. Try it out; see what you think.
View all my reviews