Murkmere by Patricia Elliott

Murkmere by Patricia Elliott
Hardback: 344 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (January 3, 2007)

Aggie’s life in the village is as normal and dull as any girl’s; she has never questioned the rule of the Ministration or the power of the divine beings-the birds. Then, the crippled master of the nearby manor, Murkmere, sends for Aggie to become a lady’s companion to his ward, Leah. Aggie accepts and even starts to befriend the wild and strange girl who seems to want nothing but to escape Murkmere and its powermongering steward, Silas. As preparations begin for the ball celebrating Leah’s sixteenth birthday, Aggie finds herself further and further enmeshed in the sinister plots that surround Murkmere, Leah, and the mysterious Master. Suspenseful and haunting, Murkmere pulls the reader into an unforgettable world between history and myth.

In Aggie Cotter’s world, birds are at the heart of everything. She has spent much of her life learning about and memorizing the Birds of Light and the Birds of Night, as well as their meanings. History tells the story of a group of people known as the Avia that wanted to fly with the birds. It is said that the Avia were punished by the Almighty, forced to live life as half-human and half-bird. Aggie lives by the Table of Significance, keeping her amber close for protection; then she meets Leah and everything changes.

After reading the synopsis for Murkmere, I was definitely curious about a world where birds are god-like. Honestly, I wasn’t immediately captivated by the story, and the pace of the story was a touch on the slow side for my liking, but I stuck with it. I’m so glad that I did. Elliott’s characters are fantastic. While the story revolved mainly around Aggie, I wanted to know more about Leah. Leah was so mysterious, and for good reason too. I wont say why; you’ll have to read to find out, but she’s very memorable. I really enjoyed watching Aggie grow as an individual and become a well-rounded character in the end.

The bird religion is still really weird to me. Birds being gods because they could fly and see everything is just too strange. And when you top that off with the Eagle being the Almighty because it laid the egg that is the world then it’s even more strange …er…unsettling. The idea is original and works well with the society as a whole.

Elliott tells an interesting tale of friendship, family, and religion, with a mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I enjoyed the unusual characters that graced the pages of Murkmere, making the plot even more lively and exciting with the turn of each page. I highly recommend Murkmere to readers that enjoy mixing fantasy and mystery. Elliott paints a vivid image of Murkmere, filling it with the most insane ideas and quirky characters.

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