________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV . . . . August 31, 2007


The Bonemender’s Choice.

Holly Bennett.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2007.
222 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55143-718-7.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.

Review by Libby McKeever.

***½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


The pirates swarmed though the streets of Chênier, ragged shadows with black-toothed grins and flaming eyes. Madeleine shrank into a doorway as they pounded past her, but the last man stopped, turned, a huge mountain of a man, and the rotten smile broadened into a roar of glee. He grabbed her, brandishing the blade of his great crescent knife and laying it along her throat, and she screamed and screamed but all that came out was ... a hoarse mew that blessedly was enough to wake her.

Madeleine sat up in bed, trying to suppress the wild pounding of her heart. She had overheard talk of pirates that night, not at the dinner table but in the private study where she had hovered into hallway to listen. Served her right, then, for spying. It was guilt, more than fear, had brought this lurid and overwrought nightmare. So she told herself.

In the dark confines of the captain's berth, Gabrielle tossed and muttered in an evil dream.

“She couldn't breathe. A gray fog seeped over her face, oozing into her mouth. Thick wooly tendrils slid down her throat. She gagged and thrashed against them, but each smothered sucking breath pulled the dark miasma farther into her windpipe. The gray fog filled her. It was killing her.”

Even in her sleep Gabrielle knew this was a True Dream. She had learned much about dreaming in her years with the Elves, learned to tell the fragmented nonsense of her mind's fancies and fears from the powerful eye of true dreaming. She had learned to let the dream play out with a delicate awareness that did not jar her into wakefulness. But this time she could not do it. She fought against the dream, fought, as it seemed, for her life.


Bonemender's Choice is the third installment in Holly Bennett's high fantasy “Bonemender” series. Six years have now elapsed since Gabrielle and Féloan departed for the Elvan nation of Stonewater, and Gabrielle's has honed her healing skills treating the sick that live in the hamlets surrounding the nation's outskirts. As the story opens, Gabrielle's abilities are tested when she is called in to attend to badly burned twins and recognizes that she may only save one. She will need to make a choice. Detecting the sameness in the twins, she is relieved that this unfortunate choice can be averted and with much effort is able to help the twins simultaneously.

     As Bonemender's Choice begins, Féloan, Gabrielle and her family are gathered at Tristan's home to celebrate the 60th birthday of their mother, Queen Celeste. The focus in this story surrounds Dominic's eldest children, Madeleine and Mathieu, and the dreams that both Madeline and Gabrielle experience, foreshadowing coming events. In Madeline's case, her brother, Mathieu, wants to sneak out and witness the fighting when pirates attack the coast. With the threat that he will never be her friend again, Madeline reluctantly follows him, only to be captured by the pirates. A desperate chase follows to a port where they suspect the pirates have taken the children to be sold as slaves. This is where Gabrielle's dream is realized. Upon arriving at the port, she discovers that a very contagious disease, The Grey Veil, is chocking people in a very unpleasant death.

     The theme of choice that Gabrielle faced with the twins at the outset of the book comes into play throughout the story. This theme culminates in a desperate struggle when Gabrielle is personally faced with the deadly disease. She must choose to save her husband or her niece, Madeline.

     Readers will enjoy this sequel to Bonemender's Oath and will quickly become absorbed in a thrilling tale that takes a turn from the battlefield to a battle of different sorts, a kidnapping and a deadly disease that threatens to rob Gabrielle of people she loves dearly. With this change of focus and with continued growth in her characters, author Bennett has kept this series fresh. Readers with be happily awaiting new installments in this engaging series.

     Holly Bennett is also the author of The Bonemender and a historical fiction novel, The Warrior's Daughter.

Highly Recommended.

Libby McKeever is a Library Technician who works in the library at Whistler Secondary School in Whistler BC.

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
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.