Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Keeper of Light and Dust by Natasha Mostert


Title: Keeper of Light and Dust
Author: Natasha Mostert
Publication Date: April 2009
Publisher: Dutton
Source: Personal Collection

Keeper of Light and Dust is one of those books that has been sitting on my TBR shelf for so long that I've forgotten where I got it. I know that I won it from a blog a couple years ago but I neglected to leave myself a note in the book about which blog it came from. After being pushed to the back of the shelf many times as review books, books by my favorite authors, and newer books were read first, I finally decided that I needed to pick this one up and read it.

Keeper of Light and Dust is a really interesting book but it definitely isn't for everyone. Mostert brings together elements of the mystical, martial arts, tattooing, and technology to create a unique blending between tradition and the modern world. Mia is a tattoo artist and a Keeper, watching over three martial artists. She uses her spiritual practice to protect her charges before and during each match. The death of one of her fighters brings on emotional doubts and questions about the mysterious circumstances. Nick, Mia's childhood friend and a martial artist himself, begins to investigate the death and finds several more deaths among martial artists that follow the same pattern. The two meet Ash, a handsome and charismatic martial artist searching for a new training partner. While he seems to be the perfect trainer to get Nick in shape for his next fight, Ash carries mysterious secrets and dangerous intentions.

Mostert does a fantastic job of drawing the reader into Mia, Nick, and Ash's world of martial arts and tattoos. The training sessions and fights are painted realistically but not graphically. A reader who knows little of this world would still be able to follow along. She also moves between characters easily so the reader can learn about each character's motivations without the secrets being spilled to other characters too soon. The pacing of the book is excellent and the characters are strong.

I think Mostert did the book a disservice by adding too many contemporary references though. It was almost as though the characters inserted very specific mentions of people and internet sites in order to position themselves as experts in their fields. Unfortunately, this also gives the book a very specific time frame and moves it away from a book that could remain relevant through the otherwise universal themes it presents. While I don't think Keeper of Light and Dust would ever become a considered a classic novel of any type, I think it could have had a longer shelf life while keeping the contemporary feel if the references had been a bit more generalized to the time period.

Keeper of Light and Dust is a unique story and I greatly enjoyed it. However, I can see how the subjects of this book might limit its appeal for many readers and this narrows the appropriate audience considerably.




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