________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 14 . . . . March 15, 2002

cover The Dollmage.

Martine Leavitt.
Calgary, AB: Red Deer Press, 2001.
159 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 0-88995-233-7.

Subject Heading:
Magic-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Christina Pike.

*** /4


Now, we are a people born into many promises. We promise to keep our promises, and we promise not to lie. That is enough for one life. But there are other promises. We promise to be the best friend of one other person in the world, and to be on his or her side whenever there is a side to be on. That is why, my people, if you will not free Annakey's hands, I command you as Dollmage to let Manal give water to his Annakey, his best friend. Put down your rock, Manal. No one will hurt you until I have done speaking. Is it the law? No? You will not? To look at Areth, I see that once again you are wise. Furthermore, the villagers do not soften their gaze, even to remind Annakey as an infant. How can they forget their hate when all around them is the consequence of her broken promise? Since the beginning we have been warned: One broken promise can a people break. Now we see it is true. Though I tell the story with great wit and talent, it may be required of you both to die this day.

The Dollmage, by Martine Leavitt, is a novel set in a time when magic and the power of the wise woman or the Dollmage is unquestioned. The Dollmage is the one who determines the story of the village. It is through her wisdom and ability to see into the future that the valley survive s against attacks from the outside. Unfortunately, the Dollmage is getting older, and her skills are becoming weaker. She must choose a successor. The problem is that she is uncertain of whether it should be Renoa or Annakey. Allowing her emotions to overpower what she knows in her heart, she makes the wrong choice, and the valley is threatened as a result.

     Leavitt chooses to tell this story from the viewpoint of the Dollmage and in the first person. Consequently, the novel, as well as being a flashback, also becomes a confession for the Dollmage. As she moves through the retelling of the events that led up to this fateful day, she also is coming to terms with her own role in the actions. In addition, Annakey and Renoa, who are presented as two polar opposites, also have to come to realize where they fit in the story of the village. As becomes evident from the beginning, things are not as obvious as they appear. This, too, can be said of the novel. At first read, the novel seems to be a very simple story, but, on a much deeper level, it represents so much more. At a time when freedom is being threatened, this novel returns to some basic ideals.


Christina Pike is a Learning Resource and English Teacher at Ascension Collegiate, Bay Roberts, NF.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364