Book Review: Keturah and Lord Death (Leavitt)

I will tell you a story of magic and love, of daring and death, and one to comfort your heart. It will be the truest story I have ever told. Now listen, and tell me if it is not so.

So begins Keturah and Lord Death, the story of a sixteen year-old girl who becomes lost in the woods and meets Death. With her gift for storytelling, Keturah is able to charm Lord Death into giving her one more day- and into promising that if in that time she is able to find her true love, she may live.

Keturah, of course, wants to live very badly. She immediately returns to her village and begins examining all of the local bachelors, but time is short, and her quest grows ever more desperate. Added to her concern for herself is concern for everyone in her beloved village, because before letting her go Death lets slip that there is a terrible plague on the way. Can Keturah save the ones she loves? Can she save herself?

I admit that the book-jacket synopsis (which of course wasn’t as wonderful as the one that I just wrote) didn’t make Keturah and Lord Death sound terribly magnificent, but this book is a gem. It’s one of those treasures that I stumbled upon accidentally, in a shipment from BookPig, in fact, but had never heard of before. But for whatever reason, I picked it up anyway, and now I’m terribly glad I did.

Keturah and Lord Death is a fairy-tale in the same way that The Book Thief is a story about the Holocaust- technically true, but so much more (for fairness’ sake, I have to add that while magnificent, K&LD is not the next great classic, as The Book Thief will probably be). It’s one of those books that puts you in a daze for an hour or so after you read it, and when people ask you, “Hey, what do you want for lunch?” you stare at them blankly and change the topic to a philosophical conversation about death.

There were a couple of moments where I felt like there was a brief jar in the story, but they were for the most part small, and the book was gripping enough that I didn’t really mind. The climactic finish was unexpected, but inevitable. Keturah and Lord Death will be one of those novels that becomes part of my consciousness and affects the way I look at the world for years to come. Five stars.


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