Dragonfly Song

408p. Pajama Pr. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781772780376; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781760290023.
Gr 5–8—Aissa is the firstborn daughter of the Lady, the village priestess, but the extra thumb on each of her hands makes her unworthy in the eyes of the gods. She is supposed to be left to die, but the Lady's wise woman quietly sneaks Aissa to a family of goatherds across the mountain. When that family is also tragically lost to her, Aissa finds herself back in the Lady's house, working as a servant and choosing to be mute. Abused, rejected, and knowing nothing of her true parentage, Aissa is eventually cast out of the city by the other servants. Each year, soldiers from Crete come for one boy and one girl tribute to dance with the bulls. If they survive, their community is freed from providing future tributes, but no one has ever come back. Aissa has nothing to lose and decides to dance with the bulls. The Bronze Age setting makes for a unique backdrop, and Aissa is a sympathetic character. Her struggles are heartrending, and made more so by the lyrical storytelling style. The descriptions of the dances are especially vivid.
VERDICT Hand-sell this unusual tale to fans of Shannon Hale's historical fantasies.

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