Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Keeper

The Keeper

David Baldacci
Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Scholastic Inc., 2015   ISBN: 978-0545881548

For fifteen years Vega Jane has liv d in one place, a village called Wormwood. She has been told that no one can leave the village because it is surrounded by a wilderness called the Quag, which is populated by many and various monsters that would love to snack on a young Wug like herself. Vega has also been told that there is nothing beyond the Quag. All there is in the world is Wormwood and the Quag.

After having many adventures in Wormwood - some of which are very bizarre - Vega Jane decides that she does not want to spend the rest of her life in Wormwood, living with people she does not respect or like. She dares to believe that there is something else out there somewhere and so she, along with her best friend Delph and her dog Harry Two, leave Wormwood. Vega has a few tools that will, she hopes, help her get through the Quag in one piece. Unfortunately, though she has a map of the Quag, a book describing the creatures that live there, a healing stone, her grandfather’s ring, a magic spear, and a chain that gives her the ability to fly, Vega still manages to find trouble.

While she and her companions are running away from an inficio, a flying monster, they all fall into a pit trap. In a way this is a good thing because the inficio cannot get to them, but on the other hand this is a bad thing because they are now prisoners of a people called the ekos whose leader is a completely mad Wug who calls himself King Thorne. Thorne used to live in Wormwood but was forced to leave precipitously when he was accused of committing murder. Now Thorne plans on using Vega Jane’s magical tools to help him attack and destroy Wormwood.

Vega and Delph decide that they have to do what they can to stop Thorne from carrying out his plan, and with the help of some of the ekos, who are fed up with being ruled by the cruel Thorne, they are able to defeat the madman.

One would hope that this hair-raising adventure would be their last for a while at least, but this is not what happens. Soon after they leave the ekos, Vega manages to lose Delph during a storm and she has no idea how to find out where he has gone, he seemingly vanished into thin air. With the help of a reluctant hob, who is not as helpful as hobs are supposed to be, Vega goes to visit Astrea Prine, a being who, it turns out, knows a great deal about Vega, Wormwood, and the Quag.

Astrea Prine is more than eight hundred years old and she was alive when her people went to war with the Maladon, a people who thrive on meting out pain and suffering. Her people (who later called themselves Wugs) lost the conflict, and the last survivors retreated to a settlement, and built, using magic, a huge defense system around this last settlement. The settlement was Wormwood and the defense system was the Quag. The whole point was to create a buffer around Wormwood that would keep the enemy out and the Wugs in. In short, all the stories about Wormwood that Vega and Delph were told as they were growing up were lies.

After she retrieves Delph for Vega, Astrea Prine explains that she will now continue to do the job she was given long ago, which is to be the Keeper of the Quag. This means that she has to keep Vega and Delph in her home as prisoners because Wugs are not supposed to cross the Quag.

What Astrea Prine does not take into consideration is the fact that Vega is a very determined person. When Vega fights back against her imprisonment, when she refuses to behave like “mice in a hole,” they all find out that Vega is not just a simple Wug girl. She is a powerful sorceress who might, just might, be the Wug who finds a way to the world beyond the Quag.

This remarkable story picks up where The Finisher left off. Slowly, and with great care, the author reveals the secrets of Wormwood’s history and the secrets behind Vega’s own family story. It is fascinating to see how this young woman comes into her own, and at the same time to see how she never forgets that she needs the friendship and love of Delph and Canine Two. Even a powerful sorceress needs friends.

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