Imagine that every time you closed your eyes—whether to blink or to sleep—you entered another world.  Such is the reality for Nolan’s life.  Nolan, who lives in Farview, Arizona, gets to watch and smell and feel what happens to Amara, who lives in the Dunelands.  Since his earliest memories, Nolan has experienced life from two bodies, but knowing it isn’t his body or his pain doesn’t make it hurt any less.  Distracted by the happenings in Amara’s world when he was seven years old and out riding his bike, Nolan now wears a prosthetic foot because both his left foot and his bike were crushed by a Jeep.

In an effort to explain his hallucinations, doctors have diagnosed Nolan with photosensitive epilepsy and try to control the hallucinations with medication.  No one but Nolan knows the truth—these aren’t hallucinations; the transportations are real and often debilitating: “The next time Nolan blinked, flames licked at Amara’s hands.  He muffled a scream. . . . He wanted to tune her out.  On their own, the images he got through blinking were chaos, like switching between TV channels and only catching a half word here, a bright shape there” (6).  Thinking he might go mad, Nolan wants out—until he feels so much a part of Amara’s life, that he feels obligated to help her find a way to escape her own trapped existence.  Lonely, shy, and insecure, Nolan’s seventeen years of life pale in comparison to Amara’s.

Amara, an Elig servant girl, has one job: to protect the Alinean Princess Cilla from injury that might draw blood and trigger her curse.  As a servant, Amara is not allowed to speak or read or write, but Amara—whose tongue has been cut out—has defied those rules.  The two girls, who have been together since they were toddlers, are on the run with Jorn, a trained mage who is helping Cilla evade capture since the ministers have taken control of the Dunelands and slaughtered all of the other Alinean royals.  A mage draws on the spirits of the seas and the winds for their spells.  All Amara can do is heal herself, which is why she is valued by Jorn and those wishing to protect Cilla, who is so fragile that a scratch would kill her.  With her voice, her words, and her tongue gone, Amara feels powerless.  She yearns to escape and to run from Jorn, the one-time guardian who has turned abusive and untrustworthy.  Amara wishes life could be hands and smiles and kisses, not the torture of being trapped.  Hovering between terror, elation, and numbness, Amara decides to run.

When Amara and Nolan finally become aware of one another, they also make other discoveries about themselves and about the illusion of control.  Their desire for an explanation and for freedom escalates.  All previous beliefs are void, and the teens realize they are caught in a web of deceit, a web controlled by money and power and magic.  The question becomes whether to give in or to fight harder.  Realizing they will never be safe as long as they are at someone else’s whim, Amara, Cilla, and Nolan decide to fight, but important people—like Amara’s best friend Maart and Nolan’s 13-year-old sister Pat—are caught in the crossfire of magic, curses, backlash, and spells.

In her debut novel, Other Bound, Corinne Duyvis weaves a magical tale that also provokes deep thought about topics like identity, freedom, and whether we are our brother’s keeper.  Upset and jealous of the attention Nolan gets from their parents, Pat eventually figures Nolan out but is pulled into his world beyond what she bargains for.  As Duyvis explores the “what ifs,” she tells a story that intrigues and invites perspective taking/making about the ties that bind.

  • Posted by Donna

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