When I saw The Humming of Numbers, by Joni Sensel (Henry Holt, 2008), on the list of books nominated for the Cybils in Sci Fi/Fantasy, I had the impression that it was going to be about large computers loudly crunching large amounts of data. I was wrong, wrong, wrong!
Instead, it is a magical story set in early Medieval Ireland.
It begins thus:
"Lana Nicarbith hummed of the number eleven. The sound caught Aidan's attention as he swept the path near the abbey's front gate. He stared, open-mouthed, while Lord Donagh dragged the girl through the entry, past Aidan's poised broom, and inside. Plenty of people filled Aidn's ears with the chiming of four or seven or nine, and many of his brothers in the order pured softly of six. Never in his seventeen years, though, had Aidan O'Kirin met anyone endowed with the energy of a number higher than ten."
Lana, with her radiant humming eleven, her bright blue eyes, and her questioning mind, is truly like no-one Aidan has ever met, and he doesn't know at all what to make of her. The disruption Lana's arrival brings to the calm life of Aidan's monastery is soon overshadowed by a more terrible turmoil. This is the time of the Viking raids on Ireland, and no monastery or village is safe from the death and enslavement they bring. By chance, Lana and Aidan are outside in the relative safety of the woods, when the raiders arrive and the bloodbath begins.
But Lana has her own gifts, gifts Aidan struggles to trust. They must work together to put the raiders to flight, using trickery and an old magic rooted deeply in the land...
Nice writing, nice historical background, nice characters, and nice romance! (With apologies to my fourth grade teacher, who claimed that using nice was the sign of a weak mind). But it is nice, although perhaps not earthshakingly so. I would have liked it to explore some aspects of plot and relationship in greater depth. Still, this is a book that I am keeping to savour again in the future (and happily, my public library already has a copy).
There's more information about the book, and links where you can find more about the historical setting, here at Jodi Sensel's site.
And for my first official "Waiting on Wednesday" post--Jodi Sensel has a new fantasy coming on February 17th, called The Farwalker's Quest. Here's the blurb from Amazon:
"Ariel has always been curious, but when she and her best friend Zeke stumble upon a mysterious old telling dart she feels an unexplained need to figure out what it means. Magically flying great distances and only revealing their messages to the intended recipient, telling darts haven’t been used for years, and no one knows how they work. So when two strangers show up looking for the dart, Ariel and Zeke realize that their discovery is not only interesting, but very dangerous. The telling dart and the strangers lead them on a journey more perilous and encompassing than either can imagine, and in the process both Zeke and Ariel find their true calling."
at 6:40 PM