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**Alia Waking

by Laura Williams McCaffrey

Reviewed August 3, 2004.
Clarion Books, New York, 2003.  214 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF MCC).

It’s winter, and Alia will soon reach her thirteenth spring.  When that happens, she wants nothing more than to join the keentens, the warrior women who protect their people by fighting the Beechians.

Then Alia and her best friend find two Beechian children hiding in the woods.  They capture and bring them in to town, expecting to be honored for this.  Their punishment for not getting adult help is to be assigned to care for the Beechians while the prisoners’ fate is decided.  Trying to treat these enemy spies with honor gives Alia a look at her life that she hadn’t expected.  Meanwhile, something strange happens in the forest, and Alia learns there might be another path she can take than the path of the warrior.

I had trouble getting involved with this story at first, I think because I had trouble relating to a culture that so honored war.  However, once Alia discovered the Beechians, events speeded up and the story got more intriguing.  This is Laura Williams McCaffrey’s first novel, and it’s nice to learn that a competent new fantasy author is out there.  I’ll be looking forward to reading her future efforts.

Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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