REVIEW: Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
Reviewed by Cat Sparks
Fifteen-year-old Canadian Ned Marriner is spending six weeks in France, accompanying his famous photographer father and entourage, worried about his doctor mother who’s on assignment for Medicines sans Frontiers in war torn Sudan. A chance meeting with history-savy American exchange student Kate in the Saint-Sauver Cathedral of Aix-en-Provence is followed by an encounter with a bald scar-faced man wielding a knife and a mystery: I think the world will end before I ever find him in time.
In time for what? Ned and Kate are intrigued by a series of clues: a 2,500 year old love triangle – a woman and her two suitors trapped in an ever repeating cycle of conquest and pursuit; an eroded sculpture in an obscure cloister; the ancient blood soaked battle ground of Romans and Celts; spirit wolves, a druid and a man who can change into an owl.
But when Ned’s father’s assistant Melanie is possessed by Ysabel upon a hilltop at Beltaine, Ned must grow up fast, learn to harness the mysterious powers he senses within himself as well as his own family’s hidden secrets. The time has come for the ancient to do battle with the new; the digital present up against the spirit world. Ned finds himself at the point where such forces intersect. Can Melanie be saved or is it all too late?
Ysabel is a novel with resonance. The story lingers with you once you’ve put the book down and moved on to other things. I liked these people and I enjoyed spending time with them as they battled to unite and save their own beneath the shadow of Provence’s Mont Sainte-Victoire.