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This was another book I got to skim-read for work! And I was actually shocked how much I liked it. I’ve studied Mayan history a little bit, but it never occurred to me to be interested in a story set in their culture. And it’s a good story, too – a story about protecting one’s family, standing up against corruption and oppression, and doing the right thing even when no one would have blamed you (or even known) if you hadn’t.

And, in the interest of historical accuracy, there are some gory scenes of human sacrifice and blood-letting rituals with frenzied dancing. That was… interesting.

In other interesting things, there were hilarious names like Great Skull Zero (the bad guy), King Flint Sky God (the king), and – best of all – Smoking Squirrel (the main character’s uncle). The main character’s name is Eveningstar, which, as far as Mayan names go, I like a lot.


Some interesting quotes:

  • “They had been harsh because they were scared, he said, and because the meanest men somehow always become the leaders.”
  • A conversation between Eveningstar and her mother about Eveningstar’s sister, Feather Dawn:
    Mother: “[She] is not so strong. She needs more.”
    “She’ll always get it. But she won’t appreciate it.”
    “True. But there are more reasons for giving than to be thanked.”
  • “If I could go back, I would not change my choices.” (The feeling, “Shoot, I don’t like where I am now. But if I could go back, how could I have chosen any differently with what I knew at the time?)
  • Struggling with the death of her hero-brother: “When I thought of Smoke Shell, I found it hard to remember him as my brother, the man who had swung me around in his arms and taught me to read and count… He had become both more and less than that, a legend, a hero, not a thing of comfort, but a thing of awe.”


If you’re interested in the Mayans at all, or just good historical fiction, or girls who stand up for themselves and won’t be shoved around, you’ll enjoy this book. Hurray for strong female characters!