Reviews for Lost Conspiracy

Booklist Reviews 2009 May #2
"*Starred Review* Gullstruck is home to the Lace, an outcast tribe known for their perpetual smiles and decorated teeth, who fear and worship their three volcanoes while the rest of the island follows the traditions of the Cavalcaste invaders. In a Lace coastal village, Hathin cares for her sister Arilou, who may be a Lost, a people revered for their ability to travel independently of their bodies. Loathe to relinquish their new status, the villagers have hidden signs that Arilou may be only an imbecile, with Hathin bearing the brunt of responsibility. After a Lost Inspector visits the village and mysteriously dies, the terrified villagers cover that up as well, unaware that all the Lost on the island have died simultaneously; then the lies are discovered, and Arilou and the Lace are blamed for the deaths. When her village is massacred, Hathin escapes with Arilou and goes in search of revenge. This is only the beginning of a deeply imaginative story, with nuanced characters, intricate plotting, and an amazingly original setting. Though the narrative bogs down in world building, there is no shortage of tension or suspense as Hathin slowly uncovers the dangerous conspiracy threatening the island. A perfectly pitched, hopeful ending caps off this standout adventure." Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Hathin is a conscientious caretaker of her sister Arilou, one of the Lost--those whose senses are "loosely tethered" to their bodies. After inspectors arrive to test Arilou's gift, the siblings are launched on a trek that changes their world. In this many-layered, richly rewarding story, poetic language and closely observed setting are well matched by the lively exploration of political themes. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #5
Hathin is a conscientious caretaker of her sister Arilou, one of the Lost -- those whose senses are "loosely tethered" to their bodies, who can observe and report on what's happening anywhere on Gullstruck Island. Arilou's reputation as Lost is essential to Hathin's native Lace village, which has no other means of support now that commerce and colonizers have depleted its fish. But Hathin doubts Arilou's abilities -- is she Lost, or just mentally incapacitated? When inspectors arrive to test Arilou's gift, Hathin tries to ensure a successful outcome. Instead, she witnesses cataclysmic destruction and launches herself and Arilou on a trek that changes her world. Hardinge's fantasy world is one of mountains and spewing volcanoes; of the sea, jungles, and alpine mists; of colonizers and of tribal cultures whose ways are vivid and revealing (readers won't soon forget the jeweled tooth-implants of the Lace, nor their compulsive smiling). The story's transcendent earthiness -- a result of Hardinge's poetic language and grounded, closely observed setting -- is matched by its lively exploration of political themes. Indomitable, quiet Hathin, named (in the Lace way) for the unnoticeable sound of the "settling of dust," makes an impressive heroine as she grows toward self-knowledge. A many-layered, richly rewarding story. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 August #2
Hardinge knows the world of Gullstruck. She understands its complex mix of cultures and languages, grasps the nuances of religion and belief and comprehends the long-simmering tensions between colonial invaders and indigenous tribes. Her lyrical descriptions paint a clear picture of the flora and fauna as well as the unusual landscapes--rumbling volcanoes, lush jungles, rocky coastlines--that make up the tiny island nation. This is hardly surprising, as she invented this world. What's amazing, however, is how easy she makes it for readers to enter into and apprehend it--even while mysteries swirl around them. From the first pages, in which readers are introduced to the notion of people who can separate their senses from their bodies, through a breathtaking journey of revenge and redemption that pits a stubborn, devoted girl against an unknown evil, epitomized by the deliberately anonymous individual who manipulates those around him into wreaking death and destruction, the story builds inexorably to the gripping conclusion. Brilliantly conceived, perfectly executed and utterly mesmerizing. (Fantasy. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 September

Gr 6-9--It will take readers more than a few beats to find their bearings in this relentlessly inventive fantasy, but once they figure out the Lost (people who can send their senses out into the world and sometimes get lost from their bodies), the social relations among the colonized and colonizers of Gullstruck Island, and the physical world they inhabit, the story is gripping. Haithin is the nearly invisible viewpoint character, one of those people that you hardly realize is there, and the indispensable guide and interpreter of her sister, Arilou, who may or may not be one of the Lost. As members of a despised minority cast, the sisters are part of an elaborate scheme to convince outsiders of the worth of their village as a tourist attraction. Intrigue piles upon intrigue as the Lost are nearly exterminated and Haithin's people are blamed. Can the sisters survive the murderous crowds, fight their way through the jungles of Gullstruck, appease the violent volcanoes, and navigate the silly court life of the local ruler? Especially memorable are some of the secondary characters, including a traveling dentist who manipulates the masses while she drills teeth and a man who is nearly as unnoticeable as Haithin but who appears to be pulling the strings of state. Haithin's journey is, of course, epic. She faces hardship, tragedy, doubt, killer insects, and a river of lava and, in the end, becomes something of a myth herself. The author is as inventive with language as she is with social and cultural constructs. This novel is just plain fun.--Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

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