Blessed is the fascinating story of Selentra, the fourth child of a poor village weaver who possesses an extraordinary gift—she can read the ancient ‘forgotten tongue’, the Nor-dorok language. ‘Selentra found she could decipher the letters and the strange white shapes just by looking at them.’ Her urge to do this is overpowering and indeed blasphemous at a time when girls are not supposed to learn to read or write, because of an ancient curse.
Her elder brother Dumor resents her ever since the time she overshadowed him on his First Letter Day, a ritual for boys after which they can go to school. In his eyes, she committed the most unforgiveable sacrilege by writing on his white tablet when he himself hesitated to do so.
A mysterious birthmark on the back of her neck makes Selentra even more different. Realizing she is a very special girl, the village priest Tarash hurries off to tell the Holy One about his hunch. Can she be, is she really the Blessed Child, prophesied to be born a hundred years before? The Blessed One would save the land from pestilence and ruin at the hands of the villainous Ag-yanees, and free girls everywhere from the taboo of reading and writing, it was long foretold. At all costs, both the priest and the Holy One realize that Selentra would need to be strictly protected from the enemy.
What follows is a riveting family drama that unfurls amidst spells, charms and magic, flashbacks and abduction. An impending Great Battle and the approach of the army of the Ag-yanees leads to a feverish horse ride through the forests to the sanctuary of a desolate hillside monastery. After all, if Selentra is indeed the Blessed Child, she is a prize catch and would need to be taken to a safe place at once. Or, as the Holy One advises, should she be put away? Many twists and turns later, following a hot pursuit through the caves, the book reaches an exciting climax.
Blessed is a fantasy set in an unfamiliar time and setting. The names are alien, so this story can belong anywhere and anytime. In fact, as the Blessed Child attains her full powers, her role is somewhat reminiscent of the Oracle of Delphi, a high priestess possessed by the spirit of the Greek Gods who could enter the divine realm to solve the mundane problems of earthlings.
The action moves swiftly through short chapters, and the story unfolds smoothly in Deepa’s engrossing style. The animated dialogues and beautiful descriptions of the dense forests and winding roads add to the charm.
Author, poet, editor and translator, Deepa has over 50 books published for both children and adults, many of them award winning. She is active in reading promotion and conducts storytelling sessions and creative writing workshops in schools regularly.
Gilded covers are trending in young adult fantasy and if a book has to be judged by its cover, the elegant cover of Blessed gives the book a mystical touch and makes it an attractive buy.
Nita Berry writes short stories, picture and activity books, historical biographies and full length non-fiction for children of all ages.