Review: Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
Publisher: Delacourt Press
Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
In an alternative Scotland three teenagers; Quin, Shinobu and John are at the end of their training. Training for a very special role. The role of Seekers, an ancient order tasked with carrying out various missions around the world. The world of the Seeker is a closely guarded secret which the young apprentices aren’t privy to until the day they take the oath. The training is rigorous and somewhat dangerous, led by the fathers of Quin and Shinobu and involves the use of whipswords, weapons that can take the form of any sharp object as well as a whip and the dreaded Disruptor a canon that fires sparks that kills the victim in a most torturous way.
Quin and John are in a romantic relationship which they keep secret from Quin’s father Briac, who strongly dislikes John. Even though John by birth has the right to train as a Seeker, Briac decides to send him home on the eve of the initiation ritual.
That day becomes a turning point for all three youngsters. Quin and Shinobu finally find out what it is the Seekers actually do and John returns to his grandfather and realizes what Briac has been keeping from him and why he was thrown out. For his two former companions the realization of what it entails to be a Seeker comes as a shock and creates doubt in them about what they are doing and when John returns with a vengeance to claim his birthright; an artifact called an athame used to open up portals to other places, they run instead of fight.
The three teenagers go their separate ways; Shinobu becomes a drugged out thrill seeker, Quin a healer with no memory of her past life and John travels the world trying to find what he believes to be rightfully his. Unavoidably their paths must cross again and more secrets about the Seekers and what happened to John’s family will be revealed.
Dayton has with this books managed to create something very interesting. It stands out when it comes to other books in the Young Adult category. It has a more in depth plot than contemporary books such as Twilight or the Mortal Instruments series and is more akin to Pullman’s His Dark Materials than the previously mentioned. The language is strong, rich and varied and though the tale of revenge, romance and intrigue is as old as the hills Dayton manages to weave this tapestry in a new and ingenious way.
There is history here, both in the back story of the Seekers themselves, but also in each character as they slowly unravel. They are all plagued by sins, both their own and those of their ancestors and as a reader one is treated to the secrets one small step at a time. Dayton also respects her readers enough to not dumb anything down and this allows the book to be appreciated by a wider audience. There is a darkness to Seeker that gets to the reader on a personal level, dealing with death, drugs, alcoholism and abuse, all done in a very smart way.
Seeker is, by all accounts, a stepping stone for those who have graduated from books by Meyer, Clare or Rowling and want to advance in their reading. It’s a great read for both young and not so young adults.