By Tamora Pierce

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Random House, 2006

Genres: Fantasy, mystery, paranormal

Series: Beka Cooper trilogy; 1

ISBN: 9780375814686

Intended audience: Young adult

Number of pages: 581

Setting: City of Corus, Tortall

Time period: 246 H.E. (medieval)

Plot summary: Sixteen year old Beka Cooper has just begun her training with the Provost Guard, or Dogs.  Having survived her first eight years of life in the Cesspool of the Lower City, she feels right at home patrolling the neighborhood – the worst part of all Corus.  As a Puppy, Beka’s Dogs try to keep her out of danger, even if they’re not happy about having a Puppy hound them, but in the Lower City this isn’t always possible.  Beka’s Dogs soon discover, though that Beka has access to information which they don’t for Beka has a special gift in addition to her tenacity.  Beka can hear voices of the dead as they ride with the pigeons and get caught up in the neighborhood dust spinners.  With Beka’s talents, her Dogs’ combined experiences, and the help of some friends, they might be able to stop the rash of killings and kidnappings which have been plaguing the Lower City of late.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Quick pace; Beka and her Dogs have two mysteries to solve as well as the routine work of keeping the streets safe.

Characterization: The story is told in first person through Beka via her journal.  Many interesting characters are described in common tongue. (There is a glossary in the back to refer to if needed).

Frame: While scoundrels can be found all over Corus and Tortall, a larger percentage of them make their home in the Lower City – the poorest and most violent part of Corus.  Beka and her Dogs never run out of work.  In spite of this, there are many kind hearted souls to be found in this neighborhood as well.

Story line: An engrossing coming of age tale filled with magic, mystery, detective work, and lots of action.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Police — Juvenile fiction.

Magic — Juvenile fiction.

Fantasy — Juvenile fiction.

Similar authors: Eileen Kernaghan – Wild Talent: a Novel of the Supernatural, Shannon Hale – Book of a Thousand Days

Personal notes: This is the kind of book I would have loved as a young adult.  Strong female characters (with real flaws), lots of action, and great slang!

Other (themes, diversity): Diversity – female guards/ officers, paranormal abilities

Bloodhound is the next book in the series.

Won a Teen Notable Book Award from YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) in 2007

Won the 2009 West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award for older readers

An essay describing Beka and the book by Tamora Pierce can be found at Amazon.

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