In The Farwalker's Quest, by Joni Sensel (my review), young Ariel learned that her destiny was to walk the world, reuniting the scattered clusters of people who had survived the cataclysm of the Blind War. In that book, she and her guardian, the Finder Scarl, had discovered the Vault, wherein lay secrets lost to humanity for centuries, and it was time to begin to share them.
Now, in The Timekeeper's Moon (Bloomsbury 2010, middle grade, 336 pp in ARC form), Ariel learns that finding the Vault wasn't enough. Somehow she must prove that it wasn't chance that lead her there...Guided by her Farwalking feet, by the warnings the moon is sending her, and by an enigmatic map, Ariel must make her way to the Timekeeper, a place outside time itself.
So she trusts her feet, and starts walking, with Scarl once more at her side. Soon they are joined by Sienna, a Flame-mage, and Nace, a boy with strange gifts of his own. But time seems to be slipping back to her first journey, bringing back strange reminders of that first quest--an old wound reopens, lost objects reappear. Stories held in Ariel's bead necklace seem to be coming true, and all the while the moon is urging her to hurry, before she runs out of time.
It's a lovely quest journey, where the adversities to be faced are not two dimensional monsters, but rather the three-dimensional intricacies of human relationships, and convincing physical challenges. There's a bit of magic in the various gifts folk have, a bit of spooky old technology, and some great stories within the story. I especially enjoyed how Sensel, without belaboring the point, makes it clear that humanity in her world is divided and scattered, and I loved how Ariel's Farwalking gift serves to bring people together.
One of the quibbles I had about The Farwalker's Quest is laid to rest here. The relationship between Scarl, in his late twenties, and Ariel, just turned 14, which had slightly odd undertones in the first book, is clarified comfortably to here to that father/daughter...and Ariel gets to find explore young love in a rather nicely grin-inducing relationship with an age-appropriate young man.
Issues of plot aside, I almost want to recommend this book simply because Sensel includes menstruation among Ariel's more minor tribulations, in a frank and unembarrassed way (many kudos to Scarl for not being embarrassed either). She also deals matter-of-factly with disability--some characters are, and there it is, effecting their lives but not dis-abiling them, as it were.
I don't want to say much more than I have already about the time-slip side of things, because of not wanting to spoil the book, but rest assured, this book qualifies! The Timekeeper, after all, shows up in the title....
Note on reader age: The Farwalker's Quest was on the upper end of middle-grade (mainly for death and violence reasons), and this book is moving YA-ward (a passionate, yet still very young and sweet, kiss). I'd call it a good one for 12 year olds, with a bit of a spread either way...
Other reviews: Becky's Book Reviews, Larissa's World, Purpleplum's Blog, and Story Force.
Disclaimer: ARC received from the publisher.