Sarah Beth Durst ’96 (Photo: Courtesy Sarah Beth Durst ’96)

New book: Vessel, by Sarah Beth Durst ’96 (Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books)

The author: Durst, who writes fantasy novels for teens, called her latest book a sweeping, romantic epic adventure. “As a kid, I used to routinely check my closet for an entrance to Narnia. Vessel is my plunging into that closet and bursting out the other side into a land of sun and sand,” she wrote on her blog. Durst also is the author of Enchanted Ivy, which is set at Princeton during Reunions, Ice, Into the Wild, Out of the Wild, and Drink, Slay, Love — about a vampire girl gone good.
The book: Liyana’s destiny is to sacrifice herself so that a goddess can inhabit her body. But when the goddess never comes, she is ostracized by her people. In the desert, she meets a god of another clan and together they search for other “vessels” whose gods never came to inhabit them.
Opening lines: “On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family’s tent to see the dawn. She buried her toes in the sand, cold from the night, and she wrapped her father’s goatskin cloak tight around her shoulders. She had only moments before everyone would wake.”
Reviews:Vessel is a fast-paced, thrilling adventure set in a hostile world filled with complex clan feuds and strong traditions,” wrote VOYA. Kirkus Reviews called the novel a “stirring story of sacrifice.” “Liyana is self-sacrificing but not a saint; stubborn, loyal, and curious, she finds new reasons to live even as she faces death. Durst offers a meditation on leadership and power and a vivid story set outside the typical Western European fantasy milieu.”