My Rating: 3.5 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst is a slow fantasy that explores themes like sacrifice, destiny, faith and independence using an interesting premise. In Vessel, the people of the desert have a dreamwalk where their destiny is revealed to them. Those who are to become vessels have their lives irrevocably changed as their bodies no longer belong to them but to the deity associated with their nomad tribe. While their family and friends have normal responsibilities, vessels instead prepare for a day when their souls will be released from their body in a ritual that allows their deity to be summoned from the dreaming and inhabit the vessel’s body. The vessel’s sacrifice ensures their tribe’s survival for the next century as the god or goddess in a physical form can perform magic capable of bringing rain to the desert and increasing the tribe’s herds.
Another thing that I liked was how the different vessels perceived their fate. At first, Liyana is accepting of her fate, but when Bayla doesn’t come and Liyana realizes that she can have a life, she becomes more hesitant at the thought of giving up her body. At the same time, Liyana knows that without her sacrifice, her tribe won’t survive. It was nice to see that struggle between individualism and altruism and contrast Liyana’s reactions with that of Pia, a blind singer completely dedicated to her deity, and Raan, who questions why she should have to die for her goddess.
Vessel is by no means a flawless read, however. My main complaint about the novel is that the journey of Liyana and Korbyn as they go from tribe to tribe to collect the other vessels soon feels repetitive because it makes up quite a huge portion of the book. Also, I found the romance to be very weak – fortunately, it’s not a major component of the novel – and thought that the character of the emperor was a bit underdeveloped.
Vessel was released in 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Comments About the Cover: I think the cover is gorgeous and eye-catching. I also love that there’s no whitewashing.