by David Randall

McElderry Books, September, 2004.
Hardcover, 288 pages.
ISBN: 0689866399
Ages Young Adult

Clovermead by David Randall 12 year old Clovermead Wickward is a precocious child, with a kind heart. The daughter of Waxmelt, a seemingly simple innkeeper, Clovermead dreams of adventures far beyond the confines of the inn. But adventure is about to find Clovermead. Sorrell, a young man who is a visitor to the inn agrees to teach Clovermead swordfighting, which Clovermead takes to immediately. But Sorrell seems to have some secrets; Clovermead spies him being chased by a very large bear. Then a nun of the Lady Moon passes through the area and has a vision, which Clovermead finds very mysterious. When Clovermead finds a beautiful brooch, her father admits that the brooch belongs to her. When a vicious stranger recognizes Waxmelt as the man who stole a valuable gem from the Queen, Waxmelt, Sorrell and Clovermead must leave the inn and their comfortable life behind. Clovermead acquires a bear tooth, which she wears around her neck and soon she feels a change coming over her. Her powers are growing day by day as the lure of the tooth grows stronger. Soon Clovermead is caught up in an epic battle between the evil bear-priests of Lord Ursus and the champions of the Lady Moon.

David Randall's first novel is an unusual and riveting story with an engaging prose style and heroine who is within a hair's breadth of turning to evil. Randall's writing has a sly humor which helps balance the horror element of the bear tooth, which drinks blood and continually whispers to Clovermead that it wants more. Clovermead herself is an impulsive, clever, kindly, and sympathetic character with a bit of an edge to her, and her voice rings true. The themes of choice, responsibility and facing hard truths as we grow up are neatly hidden behind a gripping tale of adventure and magic.

--Claire E. White

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This review was published in the November-December, 2004 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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