Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes is a tale of a magical place where children are bonded to animals that have the power to take away their dark thoughts—Darkbeasts. This sort of confession helps them release their troubles and feel lighter. Most children don’t like their Darkbeasts, but Keara has always felt a special bond with Caw, a crow who was bonded to her when she was an infant.
When children turn twelve, they are expected to slay their Darkbeasts and take their place among the adults in their society. But when Keara refuses to slay Caw, she comes under suspicion and she must flee her home or submit to the tortures of an Inquisitor.
Keara finds refuge with the Travelers, a troupe of performers that travels from town to town putting on skits and earning coins. The Travelers are making their way to the capital, where they hope to compete and win for the best performance among all the troupes in the land. Keara wants to help her new family succeed, but when one of them finds out her secret, it threatens to ruin them all.
The world in Darkbeast feels part medieval and part fantastical. Travelers are reminiscent of gypsy caravans of old and Inquisitors are ready to swoop in and eradicate individual thought that deviates from the accepted. Keara’s world is tightly controlled by the Primate, who seems like a repressive monarch. The book soars with the description of the bond between Keara and Caw and her courage in forging a new life that goes against everything she has been taught. The ending makes me hopeful that more books are planned to follow Darkbeast, as I would happily pick up Keara’s tale again.
The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.