Guy Gavriel Kay
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Buy *Ysabel* by Guy Gavriel Kay

Guy Gavriel Kay
Roc Trade
432 pages
February 2008
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Author of at least ten other books, Guy Gavriel Kay thrills his audience with this fantastic adventure involving two North American teens (one American, one Canadian) and their families who become involved in a supernatural, paranormal, ancestral adventure of a lifetime.

The tale opens with an intriguing excerpt from Robert Graves poem “To Juan At the Winter Solstice.” In this story, we have five or six main characters along with several supporting characters; two stand out as the lead characters, Ned and Kate. Fifteen-year-old Ned, the son of a mother who is more active with Doctors Without Borders than she is with her own family, is on location in Provence, France, with his father, a famous photographer. American exchange student Kate meets Ned during one of his father's location shoots. A sudden a mysterious stranger appears, seemingly speaking nonsense and uttering threats, then disappears – and the adventure begins.

Ned relies on Kate’s ability to research each aspect of their journey as they play detective and learn secrets about Ned’s ancestors and the land they are presently visiting. Eventually their discoveries lead them to choices they can hardly face alone. Joining them, despite a tendency to discount supernatural activity, Ned’s family rebuilds long-broken bonds; accompanied by trusted companions, they battle a love triangle that has breeched thousands of years.

Perfectly timed hints, glints of humor, and excellent character development help to make this story an exceptionally entertaining tale. Ysabel is an amazing history lesson, intertwined with supernatural and paranormal aspects as well as ancient Celtic, French and British culture and art. All is tastefully balanced with characters who experience parental bonding, the development of romantic relationships, and breaking beyond comfortable boundaries into unknown territory. This is a story about choices and supporting those we love, even when we don’t fully understand. The author drops hints of other positive messages, such as it being acceptable to be smart and interested in things, acceptance of supernatural abilities, that school is important, and others.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Lillian Brummet, 2009

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