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    THE ILL-MADE MUTE by Cecelia Dart-Thornton


    Warner Books, May 2001

    Imrhien has no memory, no face, and no voice. The lowest drudge in an uncaring castle, Imrhien can merely listen to the stories, follow orders, and dream of escape. Escape, when it comes, doesn't open any magic doors. Instead, Imrhien is thrown into danger, captured by pirates, and threatened with destruction. Even when Imrhien's luck seems to change with help from a fortune-seeking adventurer, destruction seems to follow.

    Imrhien's goals change to a search for a cure to the disfiguring scars. Yet the only cure is half a continent away--a continent being swept by vast movements of Unseelie spirits, each called to an unknown destination, yet each also anxious to destroy any humans he encounters.

    The strength of author Cecilia Dart-Thornton's ILL-MADE MUTE is in her descriptions of a fantasy world where traditional English and Celtic fairy tales are terribly true. Occasionally, Dart-Thornton follows this path too far, leading to an incongruous plot detour that seems to exist merely to remind readers of childhood stories.

    As the first book in the Bitterbynde series, THE ILL-MADE MUTE spends a lot of its 400-plus pages describing the countryside, the political structure, and the magic system of Dart-Thornton's world. Although these are interesting, the work would have been more powerful if the reader could see that the character's goals mattered to more than themselves. When the world is under attack from dark forces, do we really care whether one character recovers a damaged face?

    Two Stars

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