By: Sarah Beth Durst
Published By: Margaret K. McElderry
Release Date: Sept. 11, 2012
Reading Level: Young Adult
Buy the Book: Amazon
Goodreads Summary: In a desert world of sandstorms and sand-wolves, a teen girl must defy the gods to save her tribe in this mystical, atmospheric tale from the author of Drink, Slay, Love.
Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.
Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.
The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.
Last year I read Sarah Beth Durst's book Drink Slay Love, which I really enjoyed. When I saw the gorgeous cover and synopsis for Vessel, I was sure that I would enjoy it too, and I was right. Vessel is a transportive, beautiful book with just the right mixture of drama, humor, and love.
From an early age, Liyana has known her purpose in life - she will serve as a vessel so that Bayla, the goddess of her clan, can inhabit on earth. For years Liyana trained with her clan's magician to prepare for the summoning ceremony. But when the ceremony is held, Bayla never comes. Abandoned by her clan in the hopes that they will find a worthier vessel, Liyana is left on her own in the desert. But soon she is found by Korbyn, the god of another clan, and he tells Liyana that the gods and goddesses are trapped. Together they set off on a rescue mission. Only the mission is not as straightforward as it seems. Forces outside of their control are at work, and there is only so much one girl and one god can do. But the extra time on earth only leaves Liyana wanting more. If she can find her goddess, will she really be willing to surrender her body now?
From the very first page, Vessel had me hooked. The beautiful descriptions of a desert sunrise drew me in, but the story itself was engrossing. A journey across a desert could become monotonous to read, but not in Vessel. Korbyn was always entertaining, and I loved watching the relationship between him and Liyana developing. In addition, other characters come into play, each so vivid that I felt as though I were in the desert with them. Liyana herself is a great heroine; she is strong and resourceful, willing to take risks and to do what needs to be done. There are several chapters from another point of view, and I really enjoyed seeing how the two narratives unfolded side by side. Also woven through the novel are mythological-esque stories told by Liyana and others as well as fantastical creatures, which give rich history and complexity to the world of Vessel.
Despite everything that happens in Vessel, there is one thing that I would have liked to have seen developed more. However, at the risk of spoiling anything, I will keep what that is a secret. I also have to say that Vessel is unique in a way - it's not often that there are stand-alone fantasy books due to the complex nature of the worlds. Vessel is a stand-alone, but it is neither hurried and crammed nor lacking in some aspect. Instead, the story is just what it needs to be.
Vessel is another fantastic novel from Sarah Beth Durst, guaranteed to make you feel as though you are in a desert world, to make you laugh, smile, and perhaps even put a tear in your eye. I look forward to seeing what Sarah Beth Durst writes next!