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Keturah and Lord Death

by Martine Leavitt

Published by Front Street, 2006
216 pages
ISBN: 1-932425-29-2

Age 12 and older

When Keturah is first approached by Lord Death in the forest, she begs him not to take her, and then captivates him with a story. It is a tale of true love and she leaves it unfinished, hoping to buy herself time. He scorns the sentiments of her story and yet he strikes a bargain: return the next day and finish the tale. If she has also found her own true love in that time he will let her live. Martine Leavitt pits the bitterness of Death against the warm idealism of a young woman whose own heart, while full of goodness and hope, is yet a mystery to her. Keturah draws out the tale she is telling in several subsequent meetings with Death, all the while trying to figure out who among the eligible young men in her village she might love deeply and forever. And when Death offers her his own hand, it feels like a mocking insult to all she holds precious and dear. Wonderfully drawn characters and several lively and relevant subplots that place Keturah at the center of her village’s economic and social rebirth add to this folkloric tale in which friendship, courage, nobility, and sacrifice all play critical roles. As for love? On that topic, Leavitt deftly leads readers on a journey whose ending could not be more surprising . . . or perhaps not surprising at all for any who pay close attention to the Emily Dickinson lines that comprise the epigraph at the start of the story: “Because I could not stop for Death , He kindly stopped for me; / The carriage held but just ourselves / And Immortality.”  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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