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Racing the dark
Alaya Dawn Johnson
Adult Fiction JOHNSON

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In Johnson's bold debut, a young woman faces sweeping changes to the ancient traditions and culture of her tiny island home. When 13-year-old Lana recovers a rare sacred jewel from a dying mandagah fish on her first solo dive, she hides it rather than accept the responsibility of becoming a mystic. Within six months, the mandagah are dying due to changing water conditions, destabilizing the island's economy, which depends on the fish and their jewels. To pay for her family's passage to the city-island of Essel, Lana becomes an apprentice to the sorceress Akua. When Lana learns Akua gets her powers from blood sacrifice, she's appalled, but soon she must strike her own terrible bargain to save her mother's life. Johnson's story is reminiscent of Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea books, but it suffers from incomplete world-building. If Johnson can get a better handle on her island culture, economy and magic system in future books, this proposed series could be a stand-out. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Like the other women dwelling on their seismically active island, Lana plans to become a diver for the jewels within the fish of the freshwater seas. Her first dive, however, turns up a rare jewel that marks her as a woman of power and causes her to flee her island home with her family in search of a teacher who can prepare her for the danger that lies ahead. Johnson's first novel presents a coming-of-age story with a strong female protagonist and an unusual and exotic setting. For most collections. [Johnson, just 25, is currently at work on the sequel volume to this planned trilogy.-Ed.] (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Lana
Age: 13
Discovers a rare sacred jewel from a scuba diving expedition; becomes an apprentice to a sorceress; deceived into sacrificing her mother; determined to learn a dark, ancient spell to save her mother.

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