Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody reviewed by Jill Smith
Elspeth Gordie lived in fear. She did not make friends, and kept to herself. The Herders ruled the land. An orphan, sent to gather white stick, a poison from the Great White left by the Beforetimers. Once cleansed, the white stick, became sleeping potions, or potent medicines, prepared by the Herders.
Her brother Jess had once been close to her. Now he wore the armband of Herders assistant. She got headaches and as their parents had been burnt for Sedition she and Jess could both meet the same fate. Her secret talent tainted her, a Misfit. Maruman an old grey cat had foretelling visions and she spoke to him in her mind. He told her that she would be leaving the city and going to the Mountains, and that he must follow her. Elspeth was afraid. The rumours she’d heard about the only place in the mountains was Obernewtyn.
Maruman’s prediction that the darkOne would seek Elspeth and take her away came true. The journey was terrifying for the orphan. She left Jess her brother behind believing he did not care for her. His position as assistant Herder would be more difficult with his sister taken away. As they had no proof she was a Misfit, he was safe.
What she found at Obernewtyn was not what she had expected. She was set to work in the kitchens and made to work hard. She wondered why the lord of Obernewtyn, Lukas Seraphim, did not appear. Madam Vega who had found her and brought her there was. Selmar, another misfit, had gone mad. Elspeth wondered how a treatment used to cure Misfits, could cause such deterioration. When she met Doctor Seraphim, she discovered him ineffectual. Alexi, a tall flaxen haired man, was introduced as the Doctors assistant, the instigator of the treatments. His eyes were cold, with Madam Vega his ally, they were searching for a particular Misfit. Elspeth wondered who did run Obernewtyn?
Her answer came while she was still trying to hide her talents. Transferred to work on the farm, Elspeth found herself with Rushton, the overseer, supervising her work with horses. He did not know she could bespeak with the animals but was grateful for her calming influence on the beasts. Her talent, when discovered, caused her to be a subject of investigation. Madam Vega and Alexi, taking her to a Beforetimers machine, unleased part of her talent she didn’t know existed. The result was a mighty upset of power at Obernewtyn and changed Elspeth Gordie’s life forever.
I’ve been meaning to read this series for a long time. I’m glad I finally did it. This is the first book in a remarkable series. Isobelle wrote this first book while she was at high school! There are now six books in the series.