Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes is a story about a land where people, when they are children, have these beings called "darkbeasts" that take away their wrongdoings, like lying and pride. Keara is the main character of this story and she chooses not to killer her darkbeast, a raven named Caw, an action that causes the Inquisitors to attempt to find her so they can help her repent of her heresy. She runs and joins the Travelers, a group of actors that go around telling stories about the history of the country via plays. She learns many things all while hiding the real reason she joined them. In the end, Keara has to choose between the life she's known or a life with Caw.
I really enjoyed this story because it's very refreshing. It's an idea that I hadn't really heard of before and it's quite nice to come across an original storyline. Keara is your typical 11 year old, except for the fact that she likes her darkbeast, Caw, more than she should. Instead of killing him she chooses to keep him alive and in doing so changes her life forever. The Travelers were enjoyable to read about, and seeing how Keara learned to present herself differently to different crowds was engaging. It was also interesting to see how Keara's attitude towards Caw changes ever so slightly. She doesn't hate him like other children seem to do, but she also seems to have more respect for him as they continue their journey. I also enjoyed reading how some people were affected by the death their darkbeasts. See, because the darkbeasts 'took away' their wrong feelings and attitudes, people didn't really get to learn how to take care of those feelings themselves. Supposedly by the time you become an adult your darkbeast has taken all your wrongness from you, and the killing of the beast represents the death of those things as well. One character, an antagonist in the story, loses her confidence in a large way at first when she kills her darkbeast. It was very enlightening to read and I thought it added a good depth to the story.
The one thing that bugged me is that Keara seemed to want to keep Caw alive because of how she felt when he 'took away' her bad feelings or attitudes. I'm hoping it gets addressed later on in the series, but it seemed like she kept him alive for selfish reasons rather than because he doesn't deserve to die.
I give this book a 9 out of 10 and I recommend it for YA fantasy readers,