The Feverbird’s Claw

Title: The Feverbird’s Claw

Author: Jane Kurtz

Moralin has learned to fight, despite this being against the traditions. But on the eve of the rite of her initiation into full adulthood, she takes a foolish risk and falls into the hands of her tribe’s enemies. Now, captured and brought back with them, she turns her mind to escape and how she might return home.

Both the official summary (and mine) don’t do a great job of summing up what this book is about. In my case, because I’m still not entirely sure where it was going or what it was trying to do. I liked the way what gods mean and what humans interpret are often at odds, and that revolutions don’t always take big flashy battles or people dying. I liked that Moralin grows a bit of a heart despite how fiercely she tries to hold on to hatred.

And…. that’s pretty much all I liked. The book begins with someone trying to kill Moralin—why? This is not really explained nor brought up again (although it’s highly likely the incident when she was a child was also an attempted murder, though the reasons she was assaulted as well as the reason she was spared are left entirely unsaid). I can construct an explanation that fits the details, but without any supporting evidence, I can also explain it all as random coincidences.

Then Moralin is captured by a tribe she despises and that her city is probably at war with (it’s a little hard to tell, since it seems like the city isn’t actively hunting them down, nor they actively attacking the city). But apart from the initial kidnapping, this does not proceed in a manner that makes any sense. She isn’t forced to work, or presented with marriage candidates, or even forcibly married to anyone. Her kidnappers basically let her mooch off them until she decides to participate in the life of the tribe, as well as allowing her to decide what she’s going to do with them. This is especially puzzling because the orphan girl who watches her is not presented with any of the options she, a mere kidnapped enemy, is afforded.

Then we have a long escape sequence in which no one cares she’s leaving and the only enemy is the harsh wild. Followed by a baffling trade sequence in which the bead she carries allows her to bargain for a life when she was, moments ago, a prisoner again.

Really, it all feels like there’s some cultural subtext that ought to have been present but wasn’t, some prophecies that were apparently uttered completely off page, and an ending that was searching for some kind of story but didn’t quite find it. I rate this book Not Recommended.

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