REVIEW: Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst


Reviews from My Library Pile is a feature created here at Read and Reviewed, which showcases reviews of books from my TBR list borrowed from my local library. This feature allows me to share my thoughts on these titles in an unscheduled, unplanned way.

vesselVessel by Sarah Beth Durst
Margaret K. McElderry, 2012
[Goodreads] [Amazon]

Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. She will dance and summon her tribe’s deity, who will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But when the dance ends, Liyana is still there. Her tribe is furious–and sure that it is Liyana’s fault. Abandoned by her tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. The desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice–she must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate–or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.


I was drawn to Vessel by the promise of a well-crafted world and unique mythology, and I’m happy to report that the book really delivered in those aspects. I also found within its pages an absolutely captivating and realistic main character, despite the fact that she resides in a purely fantastical world. Throw in a struggle for survival in a seemingly inhospitable land, and this was an interesting cross between something dystopian-like (it’s not the end of the world, here, nor is this a post-apocalyptic tale) and high fantasy that had me immediately intrigued. While I do have to admit that the book took me far longer to read than it should have – like, five library renewals too long – I ultimately came away from this book extremely satisfied and glad that I stuck with it.

Liyana is probably one of my favorite female protagonists ever, and I don’t make that claim lightly. She is resourceful, stubborn, and so incredibly caring and loving that you pretty much start rooting for her right from the first page. When Bayla, her goddess, fails to come inhabit her body, she’s thrust in a whirlwind of events that forever changes her, and ultimately she comes out all the stronger for it. Some people shrink away from danger and difficult times, but Liyana really embraced them and did all she could so that she and those she cared about would survive. I loved her quick wit, her intelligence, and – most of all – her ability to always have a story handy when it was most needed. As a librarian, I couldn’t help but love that she’s a storyteller!

I also want to give mad props for the mythology used in this book. From the background on the gods, to their shared memories and stories, to their unique personalities, every single thing about them was so wonderfully and carefully crafted that it wasn’t hard at all to imagine the world in which they exist. I loved how Korbyn – while still being a god – was very much humanized during his journey with Liyana, and I loved their shared interactions and the way their relationship developed. I’d wax on even more about this, but don’t want to give too much away! Just, trust me, if mythology is your thing, you will LOVE this portion of the story!

So, considering I’ve had nothing but praise for this book, you’re probably wondering at my final rating. The truth is that I did have a bit of a slow time getting through the book, and even set it aside for nearly two weeks in order to read something else. While I ultimately enjoyed the story a lot, there were moments where I wasn’t really compelled to pick it up, despite how much I enjoyed all the things I just mentioned above. This, for me, warrants a bit of a ratings drop, even if that slowness is my one and only fault with the story.

Despite the time it took me to read this, Vessel is still a really wonderful book. Whether mythology is your thing, or you just enjoy reading about strong, stubborn, steadfast main characters, this book is sure to have something that almost everyone will enjoy. If you find it moving more slowly than you’d wish, my advice is to just stick with it; the last half really picks up and makes the whole thing extremely worthwhile.





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6 Responses to REVIEW: Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

  1. I want to read this one now! Great review!

  2. Quinn says:

    I’ve heard Vessel is good, but I am a bit apprehensive to pick it up after read Ice by Sarah Beth Durst. I really, really, really did not like that one. But I shouldn’t judge an author by one book. Glas you stuck it out and ended up liking this one.

    • Merin says:

      Yeah, I remember your review! This one really didn’t have anything off-putting about it. It was actually pretty beautifully written in terms of the prose, and the story was really interesting. :)

  3. Vessel is one of my favorite novels from last year. I agree with you – Liyana as the protagonist and the mythology (and world-building in general) are what really makes Vessel shine. I’ve definitely become a fan of Durst after reading this book!

  4. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves #44 –

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