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There are certain books that feed the soul and remind readers who they truly are. Lalani of the Distant Sea is just such a masterpiece; a novel that is more than a story. Steeped in Filipino folklore, a fully realized world and vivid characters, Erin Entrada Kelly has given us an incredible gift.
Lalani Sarita lives on the island of Sanlagita, an oppressive place ruled by a vindictive mountain. Everyone is given a job and knows their place. But, a drought threatens the villagers, and Lalani's mother is stricken with mender's disease, an often fatal illness. Hope just might lie to the north on Mount Isa, a paradise of good fortune. Lalani knows she is nothing special, that she is the least likely person to accomplish a life-changing task. However, when a rash wish causes the villagers to blame her for their hardships, Lalani must find a way to help. A perilous quest ensues in which many unusual creatures are met and much adventure occurs.
This story is difficult to effectively describe. While it is clothed as a simple fairy tale, Lalani of the Distant Sea is so much more: a story of the importance of kindness, the need for courage and a journey of self-discovery. I especially love how the ordinary characters must find the courage to take a stand. Hetsbi, one of Lalani's friends, is one of my favorite characters, and I loved the chapters that explored events from his perspective. Practical Veyda, Hetsbi's sister, is also a wonderful character. In love how she nmakes medicine and is determined to help people in her village. The novel has many complex events, and plot threads eventually culminate in an exquisite tapestry. If you are a bit confused by the many creatures and events, please be patient. All will become plain if you continue the journey.
Lalani of the Distant Sea is a must-read and an unforgettable experience. I loved all the vivid creatures, particularly the Weeping Loset, the Whenbo and the Bai. The author's imagination is amazing, and the creatures spring to life. The world seems so real, and you will be immersed in its savage and oddly hopeful embrace. Enter a world of peril where things are never what they seem. Thoroughly recommended. God bless you all.
I bought this book for my daughter for Christmas, and it took me nearly two months to get my hands on it because she kept rereading it. It is amazing. If you loved "The Girl Who Drank the Moon," you'll love this one.