Wednesday 17 December 2014


Finished December 15
Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay

I've had this on my shelf for years, but when I finally picked it up, I couldn't put it down. The book takes place in Provence, France, and the narrator is 15-year-old Ned Marriner, a Canadian whose father, Edward, is a famous photographer. His dad is taking photos for a book, and with Ned's mom, Meghan, working with Doctors without Borders in the Sudan, Ned has been taken out of school to join his dad.
Along with Ned and his father are his father's super-organized assistant Melanie, and two other crew, Greg and Steve. They are renting a house in the hills above Aix-en-Provence, where two local women are working for them cooking and cleaning. Both are named Vera.
On the first day in Aix, when Edward is setting up to take photographs of the cathedral, Ned goes inside. And here, things are set in motion for an experience that will change Ned's life forever. First he meets a girl his age, Kate, who is an exchange student from the U.S. staying with a local family for the year. The two of them encounter a strange man, and they find him both threatening and intriguing.
Ned also finds himself feeling the presence of this man in a strange way, and he begins to realize that something within him has changed. When a family member he has never met appears, drawn by his new feelings, he finds himself happy to accept her assistance in understanding what is going on around him, and what he seems to have become a part of.
When Ned and Kate are drawn to an ancient site, suddenly things get very dangerous and one of Ned's group is transformed into an ancient presence, perhaps never to return.
As Ned shares his understanding of the ancient story that their group has been drawn into, it will take all of them to find a way to change the story and make a new ending to the ancient tale.
I found the whole story fascinating, and really liked the characterization of him. He felt like a real young man in his reactions and thoughts. Definitely a new favourite.


  1. Like you, this book sat on my shelf for quite some time before I finally made time to read it. Unlike you, I couldn't get into it. Have you read anything else by Kay and if so, how do you think this one compares?

  2. I read Wandering Fire years ago and liked it. I tried to read Under Heaven and couldn't get into it. I have River of Stars, but haven't tried it yet. To me this one felt similar to Kate Mosse's Labyrinth, which I also loved.

  3. I know what you mean about this book. It blew me away when I first read it. Such an unexpected and beautiful story. It's one of my favorites, too.