Six years have passed since Paula and her sisters danced in the magical glade of the Other Kingdom. Six long years since her sister Tati gave up the mortal world for love. Scholarly Paula now travels to the exotic and dangerous city of Istanbul to help her father recover a fabled treasure of a lost religion, Cybele's Gift. It is said that the owner of the artefact will be blessed with riches and good fortune. The search for the artefact quickly turns into a dangerous quest for truth and self-discovery, and Paula must use all her wits and courage to work out who she can trust and decipher the mysterious messages she is receiving from the Other Kingdom. Pirates, ruthless merchants, murderers and the Mufti's royal guard all stand in the way of finding Cybele's Secret.
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(199mm x 129mm x 25mm)
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
Bewitching despite flaws, this companion to Wildwood Dancing (2007) picks up six years later. Younger sister Paula, who debated philosophy in the Other Kingdom while her sisters danced, now assists Father on a trade journey to Istanbul. They seek Cybele's Gift, an ancient pagan artifact so threatening to the Muslim political powers that all inquiries must be covert. Personal guard Stoyan sleeps protectively across their doorway and escorts Paula to the lone library open to female scholars in this restrictive city. A shock at the artifact's unveiling leads Paula, Stoyan and condescendingly flirtatious pirate Duarte on a journey underneath a mountain, fulfilling quest tasks set by the Other Kingdom. Such challenges supposedly give mortals "wiser hearts," but these riddles and tests have tepid answers. The story takes too long to find momentum, and Marillier troublingly casts both feminism and Islam in a bad light, heavily exoticizing Istanbul. However, despite these weaknesses, genuine emotion and Paula's alluring love story create a memorable page-turner. (Romanian glossary, not seen) (Fantasy. 11-14) (Kirkus Reviews)
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