Death Speaker

Written by Vickey Kall
Review by Steve Shaw

Powerfully written, Death Speaker tells the story of Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul as seen through the eyes of the Celts. In this tale, the Romans appear in the distant shadows, remote and terrifying. With laborious detail, Kall recreates the climate of impending disaster and gives voice to the trampled tribes. There is an air of unexpected and tenuous mystery that adds flavor to this novel about the violent and turbulent times during the spread of Rome into the European continent.

Emyn, a Celtic peasant, travels the land spreading warnings about the coming Romans, but what sets her apart is her ability to listen to the dead – the spirits of kings from long ago. This has earned her the name Gutumaros  – Death Speaker. These ghosts compel Emyn to give their messages at dangerous moments to some of the land’s most powerful people. Kall’s writing is quite impressive, showing considerable craft and comfort with her material.

A smaller cast of characters would have prevented some flipping back and forth to keep the names straight, but otherwise the book is well-structured. Great reading, suitable for public libraries and most young audiences.