cover image Roadsouls


Betsy James. Aqueduct, $20 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-61976-091-2

In this subtle fantasy, James (Listening at the Gate) follows two wounded young people as they move toward (and sometimes away from) each other. Duuni finds the strength to protest the prospect of a terrible arranged marriage, which means leaving her village forever. Raím, blinded in a fall, can’t bear to remain in his own village, where he will never again be a leader and a hunter. They are taken up by a traveling caravan of the Roadsouls, who live outside of any single culture or tradition in their world, and who take in the unwanted and the lost. The blossoming of Duuni’s artistic talents and the gradual process of Raím working through his anger are sensitively depicted, and the book has the rhythms of the road—meetings, partings, and new landscapes every day—at its heart. The journey is oddly paced, perhaps overly long, and furnished with unnecessary and clumsy poetry at the chapter heads, but it is nevertheless always enjoyable. (Mar.)