|The Raven Duet, Book One:Even as a child, Kelsey had a hard time passing responsibility on to others–she was finally kicked off the second grade soccer team because she could never bring herself to pass the ball. She got better at delegating minor responsibilities as the years passed, but when her father died of cancer, in a hospice instead of at home like he wanted, Kelsey’s mother shirked her responsibility in a way that Kelsey cannot forgive. So when Kelsey is stalked by a crazy black-haired youth, who demands she go on a spirit quest to save the world from an ecological catastrophe, Kelsey’s first thought is to deal with the matter herself. The boy, who calls himself Raven, is so persistent she is almost ready to go to the police…until he shape-shifts into a raven in front of her eyes.
According to Raven the DNA plague that has already destroyed half the rain forests will eventually spread throughout the planet, unless the fading magical nexuses of the earth are restored by a human. And he has chosen Kelsey to restore the magic of western North America by carrying dust from a central nexus to seven magical nexus points through the Pacific Northwest and into Alaska.
Kelsey thinks they’re both crazy, but she’s sufficiently convinced that he might actually be the Native-American trickster spirit, Raven (and she’s sufficiently angry with her mother) that she agrees to run away and undertake the quest.
In the high-tech, high security world of 2128, simply robbing the museum for the pouch of sacred dust would be challenging enough. But what the trickster spirit hasn’t told Kelsey is that not all of the spirit world believes that humanity should be allowed to survive this latest catastrophe.
The sprits cannot act directly in the world, but they can influence both nature and human nature. Pursued by both the authorities and a hover-bike gang who believe she dissed them by escaping their attempted rape, Kelsey still manages to complete her quest as far as the Canada/Alaska border. But at the border checkpoint, with enemies closing in on all sides, she realized that the completion of the quest is more important than who completes it. She stages a distraction, which implicates the bikers, and while the authorities are occupied she throws the medicine bag of sacred dust to a Native-American boy on the other side of the great fence. They’re his spirits after all, surely she is leaving the quest in good hands…just as her mother left her father’s death in the proper charge when she put him into the hospice.
|Raven Duet, Book One: When a strange youth shapeshifts into a raven in front of her, Kelsey doubts her eyes and her sanity. But once he convinces her that she’s sane and he’s not a stalker, Raven explains that saving the forests of the world from a growing agro-plague that threatens the whole planet is up to Kelsey. And the first thing she has to do is to steal a pouch of “magical” dust, created by a shaman three hundred years ago, from the basement of the museum where it is stored. Burglary is something Kelsey wouldn’t ordinarily do. But since her mother refused to let her father die of cancer in his own home, placing him in a hospice instead, Kelsey is ready to break some laws. Besides, Raven has mixed a handful of her father’s ashes into the dust to bind her into the magic, and Kelsey wants them back.
With the dust in their possession, Raven tells her it must now be delivered–by a human hand–to various magical nexus points scattered between Utah and Alaska. What Raven isn’t telling her is that a faction of his society wants humanity to fail and die, even if it means a significant weakening of the magical leys that exist in both his dimension and ours. And Raven’s enemies also have power in this world, both to sway nature and shift human minds.
Kelsey is dubious of his whole story, but she has seen him work indisputable magic, and the first nexus is just over the border in Idaho. She spins her mother a tale of going to stay with an aunt and sets off–and all her doubts are dispelled when she trickles a handful of dust onto the floor of a lava cave, and the resulting earth tremor sets off seismographs in three states. More, Kelsey can sense the magic working, flooding down the leylines to heal the earth’s fading immune system–and she suddenly realizes what a great responsibility this stranger has placed in her hands.
Raven’s enemies set a biker gang to kidnap Kelsey, and when she barely escapes, Raven is forced to tell her the truth. Now that Raven knows his enemies are after her, he can use his own magic to defend her from the bikers, who are tracking down the prey who humiliated them and escaped. And Raven does defend her, until his enemies turn human security systems against them.
A hundred years after 9/11, security in Canada is far looser than it is in the U.S., but a stranger without the proper documentation is always a threat–and Raven only discovers he has been slipped a poison that nullifies his ability to shapeshift after he has landed in jail.
Kelsey is trying to get to him without arousing the authorities’ suspicion when she’s approached by an old woman, another shapeshifter who reveals herself as one of Raven’s allies, and who takes Kelsey to the next nexus point–where, for the first time, the touch of the catalytic dust has no effect.
Kelsey realizes that the woman isn’t Raven’s ally, but one of his enemies trying to stop her–and that the grandmotherly villain doesn’t know that Kelsey can sense the dust’s effect on the leys. Thanking God for the control-freak streak in her nature, which kept the pouch in Kelsey’s hands despite the old woman’s attempts to get hold of it, Kelsey escapes her new “guide” and goes back to the small town where she manages to slip Raven an antidote for the poison that blocked his ability to shapeshift out of the jail.
But now the Canadian police are after the two of them, as well as the bikers, and wanted posters and their enemies’ magic work together to stop Kelsey and Raven. At the security-intense Canada/Alaska border the bikers (who know that a fugitive jail-breaker won’t dare go to the police) corner Kelsey, and she realizes that the forces allied against her are too great for her to overcome–just as her father’s death at home was more than her mother was able to overcome.
Finishing the task is more important than who completes it. Kelsey uses the bikers to cause a disturbance that distracts the authorities and–giving up on trying to control life, death, and the universe–she throws the pouch of dust over the border to a Native American youth. Surely he is the right person to finish saving the world, just as the hospice caregivers were probably the right people to care for her father after all.
(And this leads into the beginning of book two, where a pouch of magical dust lands at the feet of a boy of Native American heritage…who has been raised in the white culture as a city kid, and who has no clue what to do with it! But that’s book two.)