- Amber and Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz
Trade ed. ISBN 9781536201222 $22.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781536211733 $22.99
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 7–10
Melisto, beloved by her father but spurned by her mother, who had hoped for a [End Page 314] firstborn boy, is an intractable child. As she approaches marriageable age, she is sent to spend months in service at the temple of Artemis, where she meets her early death in a lightning strike. A freak natural tragedy? Retribution from a goddess with a grudge against Melisto’s mother, who made only perfunctory offerings at her daughter’s birth? Or is the girl’s destiny to be fulfilled in the afterlife, as a ghost summoned to rectify the cruel separation of a mother and son? Readers realize what Melisto cannot: her fate has been entwined with that of Rhaskos, an enslaved boy she never met, whose artistic gift may be forever wasted unless the former-slave potter who purchased him—and nurtures his talent—can secure a legal guardian and protector to maintain his own freedom. This is an ambitious but tightly plotted tale, with narration spun in ancient Greek poetic and dramatic forms and familiar contemporary prose; Iredale’s black and white illustrations of fictional “exhibits” that simulate archaeological finds cleverly confirm, or at least support, the details of the Olympian drama. YA readers who fondly recall bygone days curled up with Rick Riordan novels will be a prime audience for Schlitz’s opus, particularly if they’re up for a literary challenge and linger over the closing notes on how she crafted this immersive experience.