Gathering blue ISBN: 9780747555926
Published by Bloomsbury, 2002
Kira lives in a time far in the future, in a village full of customs and half-understood history. Her mother is dead, and as Kira sits beside her in the huge Field of Leaving, waiting the customary four days for her spirit to depart, she wonders about her own future. For Kira has a twisted leg and should not have been allowed to live as a baby. It is her mother's strength that has kept her alive, and now she is without that shield. But Kira has a rare talent. She is able to use dyed threads to capture beauty in cloth, and when she is brought before the Council of Guardians in the large building known as The Ruin (possibly a cathedral) to decide her fate, she is saved in order to become the keeper of the fabulous robe worn by the Singer when the community's history is chanted at the Gathering each year. Dark secrets are hidden in the new luxury of Kira's life, and when she meets Thomas, a highly skilled carver, and Jo, the tiny girl being trained as the next Singer, she realises they are all captives of those who need their talents. She must make decisions that will affect them all. Such is the detail of the life of these people, the depth of characterisation, and the subtlety of good and evil portrayed, that the book is a tour de force. Kira's twisted leg certainly affects her life, but in ways positive as well as negative, and she is a remarkable role model. An excellent read.