Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Twice Dead

Twice Dead

Caitlin Seal
For ages 13 and up
Charlesbridge Teen, 2018   ISBN: 978-1580898072

Naya and her captain father have sailed into the port city of Belavine on his ship the Gallant. Naya does not like being in Belavine because in the land of Ceramor the undead live and work alongside the living. Bringing people back from the dead is considered acceptable in this land, which is not the case in Talmir, where Naya and her father are from. Walking the streets alongside the undead repulses Naya, but her father needs her to deliver a contract to a Master Bellano. The hope is that he will sign it and then Naya’s father will have a lucrative deal in his pocket.

Naya is almost at her destination when something bites her on her neck and the next thing she knows she is lying on the street and losing sensation in her limbs. She passes into unconsciousness.

When Naya wakes up she discovers that she is in the shop that is owned by a woman called Lucia Laroke. Mistress Laroke asks Naya to move her right hand above her head so that she can assess Naya’s “motor functions,” which Naya reluctantly does. Naya then asks for the folder she was carrying and a man tells her that “It has been taken care of.” Naya insists that she must deliver the folder and then get back to her father’s ship, which is when the man tells her that the Gallant has left. Naya is horrified and confused. Why would her father leave without her?

The man goes on to explain that he is Ambassador Valn and that it is his job to ensure that the interests of his country, Talmir, are taken into consideration by the leadership in Ceramor. His primary job is to make sure that the two kingdoms avoid disagreements, and that lucrative trade relationships are put into place that will benefit Talmir.

Naya cannot understand why the ambassador has come to check on her. Then he talks about how sorry that he is that he was not able to “reach you in time for a better solution,” which is when the penny drops. A horrified Naya realizes that she died on that street and that Madame Laroke used her necromancer’s skills to resurrect her. Naya cannot understand why the ambassador would condone such a thing. Why not leave her dead?

It turns out that Ambassador Valn has plans for Naya. He would like her follow in her father’s footsteps and serve as an “asset” in Ceramor. Years ago Ceramor waged war on her neighbors using armies of the undead. The Treaty of Lith Lor ensured that they would not be able to do such a thing again, but Valn and his allies are now concerned that another such conflict might lie in the future. Complacency has sent in in Ceramor, and the Talmirans are convinced that the necromancers in the country are not following the restrictions that were laid down in the treaty. They need to gather evidence of this and take it to Queen Lial so that she can see for herself what is going on in her country.

In short, Valn wants Naya to become a spy. The ambassador has determined that Naya was followed from the port and that she was in fact assassinated. Clearly the ambassador and his spies are getting too close to the truth and they are being warned off, which is why they need Naya. I does not take Naya long to agree to take on the task, even though she does not know what she will have to do on behalf of her country. Little does she know that what lies ahead of her promises to challenge her in many extraordinary ways.

This is the first book in what will be a unique and exciting series. Naya changes as the story unfolds; she comes to realize that judging people, even undead people, when you know nothing about them is foolish. She comes to appreciate that life is a lot more complicated that she imagined, and that she has a rather unique role to play in the world that she lives in.