Booked til Tuesday

Life, Law & Libros

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst (3 stars)

I've only read one of Durst's other books- Ice, a retelling of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon"- which I enjoyed, though the pregnancy was awkward. I really like her writing style, and overall I enjoyed Vessel. It's a survival story with a magical twist and an epic quest. Gather the guardians, rescue the gods, save the worlddesert!

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
Series: n/a
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Published on September 11, 2012
Published by Margaret K. McElderry
Final Rating: 3 stars

Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. She will dance and summon her tribe's deity, who will inhabit Liyana's body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But when the dance ends, Liyana is still there. Her tribe is furious--and sure that it is Liyana's fault. Abandoned by her 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. 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.

What I liked:
  • On the whole, Liyana is a strong, practical protagonist I could root for. She's dedicated to her people and willing to sacrifice herself for them.
  • Jidali, Liyana's little brother. We don't see much of him, but he is a cute little four-year-old.
  • The setting. It's a desert, but a fantastical desert that tries to kill you with magical beasts along with the usual heat, dehydration, dearth of food and sandstorms.
  • The other vessels. I wish I saw more of them because they are all such strong personalities. It breeds conflict and humor.

What I didn't like:
  • The romance is probably the weakest aspect of the story for me. Liyana feels torn between her feelings for Korbyn and the knowledge that he loves her goddess, who will soon kick her out of her body and into death. Love triangle, but a doomed one, so no major worries. The problem starts with a case of Stockholm Syndrome/insta-love. And it continues when "doom" becomes optional. Luckily, the romance isn't in the spotlight 24/7 and moves to the background when appropriate.
  • The ending. Too neat, too easy (thanks to an extra huge helping of "special-ness") and neither the "reveal" nor the "occupation" made sense. (Sorry for the odd wording. I'm trying hard to avoid spoilers.)

Final Thoughts:
There was no awkward pregnancy, so yay! But the romance and ending disrupted what was otherwise a fun adventure story. Still, the writing is good, the characters are likable and I would recommend giving it a go, even if you, like I, are not a big romance fan.


  1. This sounds pretty damn good. Lets see.
    -Trickster god - Always a plus
    -very unique setting- I am intrigued.
    -God's on earth - YES YES YES

    I will have to track this one down.

    1. As long as you don't mind the romance angle, you'll probably enjoy it. And if not, the writing is still pretty good. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  2. Interesting. This sounds very different to something I would normally read, but I'm trying to broaden my reading horizons so maybe I'll keep an eye out for this one.

    Great Review!

    1. Thank you! I usually like sci-fi/fantasy anyway, but even if you don't, the writing is pretty good. :)

  3. Ooooh, this sounds very good!! :D

    1. Romance aside, it was pretty good. But I don't know many people who are as picky about romances as I. ;) I'd definitely recommend giving it a try!

  4. Mom you know it just doesn't strike me as something for me. The love triangle thing is probably what's putting me off, and the convenient extra special ness

    1. No worries. I completely understand. :) The romance really needed to be, just, less; and, while it was something of a process, there is extra special-ness, which generally bugs me and leads to too neat endings.

  5. WOW, the cover is great though!