Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Keepers' Tattoo

The Keepers' Tattoo

Gill Arbuthnott
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic, 2010   ISBN: 978-0545171663

When Nyssa was only three or four years old, she turned up on the doorstep of the Drowned Boy Inn. When no one came to claim her, the innkeeper and his wife, William and Oonagh, took her in. All Nyssa had with her were the clothes she was wearing, a broken bamboo flute, and a tattoo of a crane on her arm. Since Oonogh’s death a few years ago, Nyssa has been doing most of the cooking for the inn, and for the most part she has been happy.

Then one night, without warning, one of the regulars at the inn, who is called Marius, tells her that she is a Keeper, a member of a clan that Nyssa used to think was imaginary. Her village was attacked by Shadowmen when she was little, and he and Nyssa were the only survivors. Her parents and her twin brother were all killed. Now the Shadowmen are looking for Keepers again, specifically her, and he and Nyssa have to run away. Apparently, the leader of the Shadowmen, Alaric, believes that Nyssa has some special power, and he is determined to capture her so that she and her kind cannot be a threat to his position.

With the Shadowmen in pursuit, Nyssa and Marius move from place to place, always looking over their shoulders and worrying that someone will inform on them. Then Nyssa realizes that the nightmare that she has been having for years is about her twin brother. She is convinced that he is alive and in Alaric’s clutches, and she is determined to do everything in her power to rescue him, even if it means that they have to go to the island of Thira, which is where Alaric’s headquarters are located.

In this powerful and riveting book, author Gill Arbuthnott takes us to a world where a tyrant oppresses the people, and where one girl and her clan discover that the tools they need to overthrow him have been with them all the time.

With superbly crafted characters and a fascinating tapestry of history and myth, magic and knowledge, this is a story that will keep readers captivated from the first page to the last.